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Intellectual property in the digital space: the importance of protecting and promoting it.

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The success of any company depends on its assets, its ideas and its knowledge but also and above all on the way it operates and implements its strategy. In this crazy race, if he wants to stay one step ahead, it is necessary to differentiate himself and stand out from his competitors. Even if the issue of intellectual property protection is, at first glance, neither clear nor a priority in France, it is quite different in the Anglo-Saxon world. Among these, the first reaction is to protect and enhance the intellectual heritage of their organizations due to the current practice of what is called, there, Competitive intelligence. We in France tend to hide our faces and hide our reality. An awareness of the challenge posed by intellectual property protection is essential, especially in an increasingly digital world where theft and plagiarism are easy and common practices, especially for smaller, less protected structures who are aware of these risks.

Why protect your intellectual property rights? Here are some answers.

Startups and SMEs: Get inspired by the greats

American and English companies, whatever their size, have shown through their risk management the importance of protecting all data, including intellectual data. It is common for companies to take back, sometimes improve, the ideas or technologies of their competitors, and fully customize them to diversify or enhance their activities.
To take an example worthy of textbook case: Instagram, a photo-sharing and highlighting social network that’s part of the Meta group, has relaunched itself several times by drawing inspiration from the innovative and trendy elements of its competitors. First the system Stories and filters that are much like the snaps and filters of the Snap network (formerly Snapchat), and then more recently the riyalswhich was rapidly created after the meteoric success of Tiktok, during the 2020 lockdown.

Start-up companies as startups, whose main activity is based on an innovative idea or technology, often digital, tend by their nature to consider protecting their intellectual heritage, and that in a digital way. However, the question is raised by very few within French SMEs, arguing that they do not have the budget or even the scale of the American social network. However, all knowledge, know-how, innovation and information associated with it must be protected, because competition is in ambush.

Analysis and protection of investment sources

It is common to say that “10% of a company’s IT budget must be mobilized for its security”. However, this standard is very little implemented in small and medium-sized enterprises.

However, the protection of the company’s activity should not be limited to simple insurance and / or antivirus software. An analysis of the risks incurred is essential to determine the viability of its enterprise, but also to know which elements and surroundings need to be protected. This analysis, and then implementation of security processes or policies, can be a differentiating factor in obtaining investor support, in the event of fundraising for example.

The National Industrial Property Institute (INPI), which is responsible for maintaining and protecting all intellectual property filed with it, such as ideas, patents or trademarks, can also play a crucial role in this comprehensive approach.

Finally, even if legal remedies are possible during intellectual property theft, the cost in terms of time, human resources, and money can be very high, and it can affect the company’s activity during the entire procedure. Therefore, it is often more appropriate to invest in an integrated security solution using techniques such as obfuscation (obfuscation in French) of code and data, among others.

Promote and protect its assets to attract investors

Protecting its intellectual property and industrial secrets was now a necessity, particularly in the search for financial funds, in order to attract and retain any potential investors or buyers, moreover the Anglo-Saxons.

In fact, from now on, to obtain an investment, the latter not only look at the profitability of the company, the fact that it has a recurring income, but also, more and more, consider the risks of intellectual property protection because it is also their own investment that he values ​​and protects in the end.

In recent years, FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) to France has been on the rise and will continue to grow, with recent support from the government and the recent holding of the France Choice Summit. It’s time to get ready to speed up and align with the investment propositions of different funds in order to expand.

This protection is absolutely necessary in the event of a desire to internationalize the company, for the reasons mentioned above: industrial espionage and data theft, even technical, are common practices among some of our neighbours.

Another writing case, in the case of the merger acquisition, Yahoo! 2016 is the perfect example of a loss of value following a cyberattack and a company’s data theft. In the process of being taken over by Verizon, a leak in the press announces that three billion user accounts for Yahoo! had leaked. The case took on dimensions that undermined the acquisition process. Conclusion: Several patches later, the number of hacked accounts has dropped dramatically, but Yahoo! Also, which lowered Verizon’s acquisition price. We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars here.

Protecting intellectual property and related data has several purposes: protecting the company and its turnover, improving its activity, enhancing its strength and reassuring investors. Protecting your knowledge from leaks saves time and money, so why do without it?

Taking this practice into account is already firmly rooted in the minds of companies in the Anglo-Saxon countries. On this subject, unfortunately we have a real delay in France and it often costs our companies a lot of subsequent costs.

Especially since in an increasingly digital world where hackers are indiscriminately targeting all companies with ever more effective means, protecting and enhancing the intellectual heritage of organizations must be a priority.

Editorial written by Posted by Eric Houdet, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, QuarksLab

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