13 Most Effective Intellectual Property Management Methods

In the digital age, technology has made it possible for anyone to access any piece of information or media in just a few clicks. The exposure to vast amounts of concepts and theories may have proved that there are no truly unique ideas, however, there are still ways to create something new. These are innovations of existing concepts, which can take many different forms and can be considered intellectual property.

Along with the freedom to create and access information comes the challenge of others stealing your innovations. In 2021, IBM reported that data theft cost companies an average of $4.24 million annually. This makes it imperative to safeguard intellectual property, especially if you’ve turned it into a source of income online.

  • Online intellectual property management is essential for protecting your creative works and securing market competitiveness.
  • Online businesses rely on various legal protections like trademarks and copyrights for their identity and innovation.
  • Strategic IP management, including trademarking and patenting, is key to the sustainable growth of online businesses.

What is Online Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) covers the different expressions of creative ideas protected by IP rights. This can come in the form of literature, art, designs, images, and other elements of products. It becomes online intellectual property when intangible assets are utilized in digital media and platforms.

The importance of intellectual property management

Intellectual property management is multifaceted and critical to the success and sustainability of businesses, creators, and economies. IP management looks into identifying, protecting, and enforcing IP rights to reap its full benefits and mitigate the risk of infringement.

Here are the different ways intellectual property management can help IP:

  • Protection of creative work from unauthorized use and exploitation of IP assets
  • Efficient commercialization of IP assets for online business growth, monetizing through licensing agreements, sales, or partnerships
  • Competitive advantage against brands attempting to mimic or imitate your IP
  • Opportunity for innovation and investment that enables rewards and recognition with the proper intellectual management processes
  • Legal protection and defense against potential infringement

What are the Intellectual Properties of an Online Business?

The intellectual properties of an online business can encompass various types of legally protected assets. This is crucial for its identity, operation, and competitive edge. It can also ensure legal compliance and allow businesses to capitalize on innovations fully. This includes the following.


Trademarks for an online business should protect the brand identity and marketing assets. This includes brand names, distinctive signs, logos, and other expressions that distinguish a business’s products or services.


Copyrights are the most crucial form of intellectual property protection as this covers the original ownership of innovations. This includes a variety of digital media and design rights including written content, graphics, videos, software code, web design, and even blog posts. Each of these is considered unique content that allows online businesses to provide an immersive experience for audiences.


While not applicable to every online business, patents protect inventions or discoveries. Online businesses can hold patents for technologies, processes, software applications, user interface designs, and even business methods seen online. This can prevent other businesses from imitating these innovations.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are valuable and confidential information that provides an online business with a competitive edge. This can include algorithms, data analytics, customer databases, and other business processes. Keeping all of this confidential ensures competitors cannot replicate an online business’s success.

Domain Names

While domain names are technically not a separate category of intellectual property, domain names are important assets for online businesses. They serve as a business’s address on the internet.

13 Effective Intellectual Property Management Methods for Online Businesses

Managing intellectual property plays a significant role in online businesses. An effective IP management process for online businesses will not only be able to protect their unique assets but can ultimately contribute to business success.

1. Protect Trade Secrets

Protecting trade secrets allows your business to keep its marketing position and more importantly, avoid your IP to fall into the hands of competitors. It eliminates the likeliness of another brand from sporting products or technologies similar to yours.

Ensuring your intellectual property is kept on a controlled, need-to-know basis will help safeguard your trade secrets. Implementing confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements aside from security measures can prevent sensitive information from spreading.

How to apply this:

Carefully select who has access to your intellectual property. Limit the details you share on social media if you promote your brand online.

2. Trademark Your Business

A trademark protects your business, brand identity, and market position. A registered trademark means you get exclusive rights to your intellectual property, which can help build brand recognition and increase your asset value.

How to apply this:

Once your business is set with a name and logo, apply for a trademark.

3. Document Your Concepts

Proving your IP is indeed yours means being able to provide proof of how it was created. This can help establish priority in patenting; for example, checking for the date of conception can assist greatly if there are similar ideas. Additionally, organizations can assess the value of the IP to inform decisions on patenting, commercialization, and more.

How to apply this:

The best thing you can do is ensure you have detailed documentation on how you created your IP. This should include dates, significant notes on the idea, as well as supporting media like images, videos, and other relevant files.

4. Set Copyright Protection in Place

Copyright protection is the legal foundation for ownership, granting the creator exclusive rights to use the asset in any way, whether it’s for reproduction, distribution, or display. This gives you full control over your IPs and how they are used, while also providing a mechanism to take legal action against unauthorized use of the IPs.

How to apply this:

Ensure all original content created for the website and its associated platforms is copyrighted.

5. Apply for Patents

If your business has developed unique technological solutions or products, consider applying for patents where feasible. A patent also grants exclusive rights for inventions or innovations. It can also generate revenue with licensing agreements or selling patent rights.

How to apply this:

Apply for a patent to build a robust IP portfolio to boost the business’s valuation, reputation, and market position.

6. Publish and Share Your Patent

As you patent your innovations, getting them recognized is another step you can take in IP management. When you publish your patent, building relevant content that cites the patent and your brand can position you as a credible resource.

Not only will publishing and sharing your patent deter infringement, it can encourage other businesses in relevant industries to approach you for licensing agreements, and ultimately grow your IP portfolio.

How to apply this:

When your patent is granted and published by patent offices like the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the European Patent Office (EPO), you can make it accessible on other patent databases and search platforms. You can do this by announcing it in a press release, or featuring it on your own website as well to highlight your innovation.

7. IP Licensing and Agreements

As mentioned above, intellectual property licensing and agreements can aid in monetizing IP assets. This means listing assets like videos, images, or music as usable elements in exchange for royalties. A licensed IP can also be useful in forming strategic partnerships with other businesses with similar goals.

How to apply this:

Use clear and enforceable agreements when licensing IP or entering into partnerships that involve your IP.

8. Avoid Joint Ownership of Intellectual Property

Sometimes, an idea can be owned by more than one entity. In this case, having multiple owners — or co-owners — of a product, content, or services, means licenses enable all parties to create derivative works without approval from other owners. In other words, a co-owner can create products like t-shirts and posters with an illustration and make it available on other websites.

Avoiding joint ownership allows you more control of the assets while simplifying the revenue-sharing process and streamlining the enforcement of all IP rights.

How to apply this:

Setting clear agreements before collaborating with other creators or businesses on projects is important. Look into who will develop and own the IP, and elaborate on your contract’s intellectual property clauses.

9. Separate Working Teams

It can be beneficial to strategically divide technical teams based on their geographic location or project they’re working on. Limiting how much information employees have to intellectual properties can help with IP risk management, and avoid information leaks.

This can also help define and attribute IP ownership and subsequently enable teams to focus on more innovative and valuable IP generation.

How to apply this:

To effectively separate technical teams for IP management, it’s important to assess the IP sensitivity of projects. From here, you can set clear boundaries and access controls between teams. Have fixed protocols for communication across teams when information sharing to allow for a more seamless workflow.

10. Watermarking Digital Content

Watermarking digital content is significantly useful for visual media like illustrations, images, and videos to minimize the chances of unauthorized use of content. It can also aid in tracking and monitoring where content has been used or distributed. Its biggest benefit is supporting the business claims when it comes to legal disputes over ownership of assets.

How to apply this:

Affixing the brand name or logo by using software for watermarking can help. Procedures for images and graphics may vary from videos and documents.

  • For images and graphics, you’ll want to use a transparent watermark that doesn’t largely obstruct the image.
  • For videos and music, you can use an image of your brand name or an audio clip to inform the rights of your IP. Insert this in key intervals that are hard to cut out.
  • For documents, adding a watermark on every page will ensure that no part of the document is shared beyond agreements.

11. Regulate IP Portfolio Management

Intellectual property portfolio management is a strategic approach in which a company’s IP assets are organized and used as leverage to support business objectives. Not only does portfolio management ensure IP strategies are aligned with goals, but it also helps allocate the right resources to IP assets for maximum ROI.

Reviewing and auditing your brand’s intellectual property portfolio will aid in determining what IP assets are underperforming so you can use the highest-value IP.

How to apply this:

An effective intellectual property portfolio management process involves several steps and considerations.

  • Create an inventory of your IP assets with patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and domain names. This should include registration statuses, geographical coverage, revenue streams, and other key information.
  • Evaluate each IP asset based on its value and alignment with your business strategy. This should factor in market relevance, contribution to competitive advantage, and, most especially, its revenue generation.
  • Monitor and maintain its IP protections. All assets should be renewed on time and enforced against infringements.
  • Analyze what gaps might exist in your IP protection, including opportunities for further innovation, and expansion.

12. Enforce Security Policies

Classified information can get out. Ensuring employees are properly briefed on protection policies, IP protocols, and practices will go a long way. This means ensuring IT structures are secure — from multi-factor authentication on devices to file-sharing practices, and third-party sharing.

How to apply this:

Implement the relevant employee training and awareness sessions on a regular basis. Limit access to sensitive intellectual property, while also conducting regular audits.

13. Invest in Digital Intellectual Property Measures

The final and most important investment you can make is investing in a good intellectual property management software that can protect your brand. A good one will be able to ensure data protection and privacy against unauthorized access and use of your IP assets. This can help sustain your online business in building a valuable product, which can provide long-term success.

Protecting your IP assets

Innovation can serve as a currency and a commodity in the digital landscape. Implementing effective intellectual property management methods can be a strategic way to safeguard, monetize, and see success in your work.

There are many ways you can protect your business from digital assets to branding, and technological innovations. What’s important is that you take a proactive approach to maintain your rights in an increasingly competitive market online.

Anthony Hall
Anthony Hall is an intellectual property expert with several years of experience working with digital copyright infringements. He loves writing and sharing his knowledge and is passionate about helping small businesses and individuals protect their hard-earned work.