3 Business Functions Where Protecting Your IP Is Critical

Intellectual Property - IP

Are you doing all you can to protect your business? When it comes to your assets, few things are as important to safeguard in the digital age as intellectual property (IP).

Offices, equipment and tools will each come and go – but the logic, processes and designs that you produce and monetise lay the foundations for your business.

However, beyond the traditional ideas of what constitutes IP, like artistic works, product names and trade secrets, there are a range of assets across different business functions that also need protecting.

Here in this article we will discuss three of the top areas where you may not have realised safeguarding your IP is critical.

1. CPQ calculations

Many businesses rely on Microsoft Excel to perform CPQ calculations. And while the software might be a convenient destination to house intricate formulas and logic, it’s not without its security challenges — specifically when sharing spreadsheets containing vital CPQ calculations.

As Excel-to-web platform EASA writes, Excel is “powerful, agile, and familiar” thanks to its universal placement in the software stacks of businesses the world over. However, sharing Excel spreadsheets “creates many problems that can lead to chaos, including version confusion and potential IP exposure.”

This is because security features in Excel are not always implemented, and even if done, are limited and easily circumvented leading to formula integrity and exposure issues.

Instead, many businesses are turning to alternatives such as converting spreadsheets to web app solutions, which support users to carry out CPQ calculations without directly accessing the Excel back-end.

This completely protects the integrity of business logic and sensitive data, ensuring that proprietary pricing models and strategic business insights remain secure and shielded from unauthorised personnel.

2. Software development

As pressure mounts for companies to push their digital efforts further, more are finding themselves embroiled in the business of software development, investing substantial resources in crafting innovative software solutions.

With this comes the need to safeguard the underlying code, intricate algorithms, and distinctive functionalities offered by each piece of software produced.

However, even when you’re developing software in-house, there are many different collaborators involved. This elevates the risk of unauthorised access, code theft, or replication.

Robust IP protection measures are needed to protect proprietary software elements, such as source code. This “should be stored with thorough encryption protocols, such as AES-256 bit encryption,” explains code management platform Assembla. If exposed, the source code could undermine your business’ competitive advantage or new product launches.

To that end, you should employ a combination of legal protections, such as comprehensive contracts, copyright registration, and patents for unique elements. Additionally, you may consider implementing employee training on IP protection, such as courses offered by Skillsoft or DeltaNet.

3. Product design

When you’re building any product, your creative process informs each phase of the development cycle. So, as you create the features that will set your product apart, you’ll encounter vulnerabilities along the way where your IP could be exposed and stolen. This makes IP protection an essential part of product design, from the initial sketch to the final prototype.

As such, you’ll need to establish a systematic approach to documenting and cataloguing the entire design process. This includes maintaining detailed records of any sketches and design iterations, even as they’re passed from department to external contractor to compliance.

Spark Innovations explains that “the best way to document a product development timeline is to use a spreadsheet. In the platform, you’ll want to include each stage of the process and how long it took.”

However, legal protections may also be necessary. Implementing iron-clad non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) will help protect any proprietary design elements from being leaked or shared unnecessarily.

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