Emerging tech unicorns must adopt right IP strategy to remain competitive

The tech sector is buzzing with emerging tech startups experiencing rapid growth, and the key to this is protecting intellectual property, says automated warehouse robotics unicorn Exotec.

Up-and-coming technology unicorns continue to grow at accelerated rates with new, innovative products and solutions being designed and manufactured every day. While it’s easy to get caught up in the growing pains and benefits this can bring, it’s crucial to protect and defend assets that can be instrumental to future success.

Intellectual property (IP), a branch of law covering trademarks, trade secrets and patents that protects and defends a business’s inventions and ideas from non-authorised commercial use is at the crux of this. While many tech unicorns continue to grow, some may fail to understand and analyse competitors or carry out the correct IP strategy for their industry.

These strategies range from ‘offensive’, involving litigation and ‘defensive’, where companies opt to protect information with trade secrets, to ‘delegative’, generating patents and asking companies if they want licence products and collaborative, involving the combination of mutual forces.

According to Olivier Billard, Head of Intellectual Property at Exotec, startups must have a focused IP strategy to safeguard their innovations and stay ahead of the curve.

Billard said: “It is vital that emerging unicorns have IP strategies in place to ensure their products and messaging are protected while experiencing growth. This is especially pertinent to the robotics industry, a highly competitive tech sector where software and hardware both combine and result in a transformative impact on our day-to-day life.

“IP adds a great deal of value for a growing business, particularly patents, as they are the best way to protect innovations that may be at the heart of a startups offering. Monitoring patent activity is also a useful way to track technological advancements in robotics. Patent survey and patent landscapes can help identify areas of comparative advantage and expanded innovation.

“At Exotec, lots of effort and investment goes into developing new solutions, and it is key for us to continue to create and innovate. However, this value is at risk if not protected. When deploying IP strategies, unicorns must ensure their chosen approach aligns with their ambitions and goals. This process is made easier by having an in-house process to identify various types of IP, prioritise and implement the appropriate IP protection and create an NDA policy to secure the management of IP and confidential information in any business deal. Employees must also be trained and educated on IP before strategies are implemented.”

Billard concluded: “Tech unicorns and startups experiencing rapid success must always protect their assets to continue their growth trajectory. The correct intellectual property strategy will add value to a business while ensuring their innovations are protected, compliant with existing patents, and not infringing on their competitor’s IP.

“Considerable time and investment are spent on new technological innovations and solutions. If the IP strategies of some of the world’s most successful businesses are anything to go by, the key is to protect your assets before somebody else decides to use them.”