The field of intellectual property is rapidly growing as companies begin to realize the value of the intellectual capital portfolios. At least one expert has predicted that the intangible assets of a typical company (namely, its trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets) will soon represent 80 percent of its value. For example, the trademarks of the Coca-Cola Company have been valued at more than $30 billion and are the most recognized commercial symbols in the world. Achieving and maintaining the value of intellectual property requires an understanding of what assets can be protected, how they can be protected, and how they can be used to generate revenue through licensing and other arrangements.
More and more businesses produce only intellectual property, meaning the products of human thought and creative effort, such as software, business methods, and information. As the economy continues to shift from the manufacture of durable goods to information services and technology, business professionals need guidance on how to protect that information. Over the past five years, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has witnessed a 50 percent growth rate in trademark and patent applications, testament to the increasing value of intellectual property and the critical need for companies to understand and protect their assets.
Because of the increasing mobility of employees in today's information-based economy, business professionals need to devote special attention to owning the products created by employees and to ensuring that employees do not compete unfairly after their term of employment ends by soliciting other employees or providing trade secrets to a competitor. This book thus provides both substantive and practical information on ensuring that business professionals own the work created by their employees and methods to prevent unfair competition by former employees.