If another company claims that it was the first to invent a piece of your intellectual property (IP), would you be ready to respond with the design notes, sketches, and troubleshooting discussions your team generated during development? With remote workforces using dozens of SaaS applications to design new products and develop new ideas, proving ownership of IP can be a harder task than many companies expect.
In the other blogs, we’ve
- reviewed what IP is and why it’s critical to business success and
- explained where modern IP data can be found and why it’s so hard to extract and use.
In today’s post, we’re identifying six ways companies can prepare for the challenge of proving their ownership of IP. Last but not least, we’ll also explain how Hanzo can help.
How Can Companies Protect the Data That Establishes Their IP?
As we’ve mentioned before, a company’s value, reputation, and success are directly tied to its intellectual property, and therefore, it is critically important to safeguard that IP. However, IP data is becoming increasingly dispersed and, therefore, more challenging to protect. Here are a few things to keep in mind to develop business practices that prioritize safeguarding your intellectual property so that you can spend more time innovating and less time litigating.
1. Understand your data ecosystem
To protect the data that establishes your company’s IP, you first need to know where that data is. Start with a comprehensive IP data audit. Determine—perhaps through an online survey or by circulating a standard ediscovery custodian questionnaire—what apps and tools your employees use to discuss or work on protected information.
2. Protect your data
You find that data is scattered around in a thousand different places including desktops, laptops, file shares, and cloud sources, make a concerted effort to consolidate critical information into a single, protected location while controlling who has access to the information. Sometimes it is not the “where” data is stored that is the problem, it is the “who” has access that is the biggest issue. For cloud storage, check who has access to files and folders and maintain a “need to know” posture on critical IP.
3. Figure out your systems’ data archiving and exporting capabilities
Once you have a better understanding of where your IP data resides, you must prepare to collect and preserve that data in case of an IP dispute. Evaluate your data sources. Do any of them have built-in data archiving or export functions? If so, what data formats do they generate? Are they easy to use?
4. Ensure your systems can support a defensible data preservation process
Bear in mind that any method of data preservation must be defensible in court. That means that you need a clear audit trail and chain of custody. You must also prove that you have not manipulated or modified the exported data. You will need another method if you can only extract data from a web app by taking screenshots of your projects. Screenshots are incredibly easy to edit, which leads courts to distrust them.
5. Preserve the context of your IP data
Screenshots are easy, but there’s another reason they’re not enough: they do not preserve the context of the original application. The problems screenshots cause are easiest to visualize with the example of virtual whiteboards. Once you zoom out far enough to see how different ideas are connected, you can’t read the text of the individual concepts. But if you zoom in close enough to discern those fine details, you can no longer see how those details fit into the bigger picture or how the individual parts add to a cohesive whole.
6. Use a preservation approach that retains the original functionality of your data
Context is key to understanding modern collaboration data—and discerning context often depends on having a functional version of data. SaaS applications add an inherent complexity to the process of data preservation beyond just zooming in or out. There may be nested comments, hidden content, emojis, GIFs, attachments, and more—all of which could contain information critical to establishing ownership of an idea or design or the timeline of a product’s development. In short, non-functional data without context is useless in an IP dispute.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to protect your company’s IP data.
Protect Your IP Data With Hanzo
Hanzo specializes in archiving and preserving hard-to-capture data sources like Slack, Google Workspace, Microsoft Teams, Jira, Confluence, and other SaaS platforms and internal systems. With Hanzo, you can mitigate the risk of IP theft and provide solid proof in case of any IP dispute, no matter what platforms your teams use or where your employees generate data.
We got our start with archiving data for regulatory compliance and ediscovery, so we understand the importance of legally defensible preservation. And we can capture nearly any data displayed on a webpage, which means web-based collaboration application data is no problem. Better yet, because our technology works with all kinds of online content, you only need one tool to archive and preserve IP data regardless of what apps your employees use or how often those apps change.
Hanzo preserves information in its full original context, so you can view and interact with data in a collaboration tool as if you were on the original live website. That means you can open attachments, expand comments, click links, and zoom in or out to your heart’s content. Hanzo’s archives are so easy to navigate and understand that even non-technical users can preserve and access data without waiting for IT to walk them through it.
Hanzo also automates manual tasks and automatically synchronizes data across all platforms, so you can be confident that all of your IP is preserved and up to date without the need to constantly refresh data stores or deduplicate your results.
In short, Hanzo helps companies prepare to prove their ownership of IP data no matter where that data resides.
Contact us today to learn more. And for the full version of this content, check out our guide, Protecting Your Intellectual Property: A Guide to Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset.