A new online tool can help small companies and entrepreneurs evaluate their awareness of intellectual property (IP)—trade secrets, company data and more—and learn how to protect it. The National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) teamed up to create the IP Awareness Assessment, available at no charge at www.uspto.gov/inventors/assessment/.
Intellectual property is a key concern of small businesses owners, who can secure significant competitive advantages by exercising the rights they hold to their innovations. However, many individuals are often unaware of their rights and miss the opportunities they can provide.
"Understanding and protecting IP is an important step along the path of bringing innovations to the marketplace," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. "We hope this tool will help companies and individuals better navigate the process and become more competitive."
The full assessment comprises questions on five IP protection categories—utility patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and design patents. Five general IP categories are also covered: IP strategies and best practices, using technology of others, licensing technology to others, international IP rights and IP asset tracking. The questions presented in each category have been designed to discover the participant's overall IP awareness.
"This Administration is committed to supporting innovative business tools, which help drive U.S. technological leadership worldwide and support a 21st century economy that is built to last," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. "The IP Awareness Assessment Tool will help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality and bring them to market faster, thereby creating jobs more quickly, too."