How to Protect Your Intellectual Property in Global Business – and in the Cloud
Cloud computing is fast becoming the norm in a wide range of industries. With the growing demand for data storage, this technology that allows businesses of all sizes to store and exchange intellectual property (IP) and other data in the ‘cloud’ is becoming essential for many organizations. The advantages of using cloud services are undeniable for many businesses, as there is usually no initial outlay for the hardware, minimal IT support and staffing costs. Now, cloud technologies such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and cloud service brokers (CSBs), are enabling firms to much more affordably automate certain functions and adopt new technologies. Gartner estimates that by outsourcing to a CSB, small and midsize businesses can save 20 to 30 percent over what it would cost to do the integration work internally.1
Cloud technologies also make it easy for organizations to streamline data sharing, both domestically and abroad. However, experts note, security can present an issue. Not surprisingly, private businesses, courts and governments all over the world are becoming more active in protecting confidential information in cloud computing. In today’s rapidly world of business IT, security measures need to be constantly reevaluated to eliminate risks where current technologies and business trends converge.
International Patent Activity and the Cloud
The rise in patent application activity represents a good example of this convergence. In recent years, as businesses increasingly seek out international business opportunities to spur revenue growth, the number of patents being submitted via the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the European and US Patent Offices has risen notably. Since 2010, Asia has taken over from the U.S. and Europe as the most active region of activity, with China and India leading the way. While the overall number of patents submitted under the international Patent Co-Operation Treaty rose by 5.7 percent in 2010, submissions from China and India increased by 55.6 percent and 36.6 percent, respectively.2
However, patent filing is not a standardized process worldwide. Companies must navigate multiple filing procedures, jurisdictional differences and a multitude of foreign languages to protect their patents in the international arena. Recognizing the need for improvement, the U.S. and European patent offices and WIPO are all working to simplify the process and harmonize their electronic filing processes. Cloud computing will likely play a leading role in this effort.
Steps to Protect International IP
So what steps can organizations take to protect their IP internationally – and in the cloud?
- Employ thorough reference checks on outsourced legal services, domestically and abroad. Refer to the American Bar Association’s opinion article noted below for more guidance.3 This should include personnel as well as systems.
- Eliminate public data sharing practices. Limit the informal exchange of confidential property via unsecured tools such as e-mail or other public online file sharing applications.
- Leverage CSB services to control data security. This has worked well for companies like Mohawk Fine Papers. According to Paul Stamas, Mohawk’s Vice President of IT, “Using a CSB has improved security because everything flows through a single point by way of a VPN connection. Inside the cloud, they have all of the data security precautions you’d expect from a PCI standards-compliant data center.”4
- Don’t minimize the role of language translation. For international IP activities, work with an expert IP translation services provider with subject matter expertise.
As business becomes more global, the volume and sophistication of international business transactions such as patent prosecutions and patent litigation will continue to grow. Cloud computing tools offer an efficient means to manage such communications, provided they are subject to the same security standards an organization applies to its internal systems.
1 Robert Mitchell, “Integration in the Cloud,” Computerworld, March 12, 2012.
2 Clive Cookson, “Patent Proof of Rising Innovation,” Financial Times, May 20, 2011.
3 Victoria Prussen Spears. “Globalization’s Impact On Legal Services: The American Bar Association Weighs In,” Intellectual Property & Technology Law Journal, August 2012.
4 Mitchell, “Integration in the Cloud.”
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