Protecting intellectual property is a thorny issue frequently encountered by event planners but it is challenging to find solutions. Recently, there have been discussions about this issue on LinkedIn.
This increase in attempts to use intellectual property without compensation coincides with the emergence of the Internet, which has facilitated sourcing potential suppliers and requesting quotes.
There are no magic answers. Fortunately, there are a number of steps that event planners can take to reduce the likelihood that their ideas will be poached and intellectual property will be stolen.
- Take the time to identify and articulate your unique selling proposition (USP).
Pinpoint the components of your services are unique and proprietary.
When responding to RFPs indicate the value you bring to the table.
According to David Music of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank:
"The key to successful Intellectual Property management is to only manage that IP which you can control."
- Explore best practices from other professions.
- Example: Guidelines on Intellectual Property Event planners aren't the only professionals facing the challenge of protecting intellectual property. Authors, architects, technical designers, and commercial real estate sector confront similar issues.
- Take the step of copyrighting or trademarking all proprietary programs, processes and information.
- Be sure to Digimarc or add your logo and copyright notice to all photos, diagrams and images that you have created.
- Respond to requests for quote from bona fide business emails. Although it's not a hard-and-fast rule, there is a higher likelihood that requests sent via free email accounts will be bogus or email scams.
- Get in the habit of sending all proposals as .pdf files and presentations in slide show view format so that they are not easy to copy and replicate.
- Include a notice similar to the following: "All information in the proposal represents the intellectual property of (insert your company name). It is STRICTLY confidential and it is not to be shared with ANY competitors or other parties internal or external to (insert prospective client's name) except for those involved in the decision making process.
- If you have concerns about the use of your intellectual, definitely speak with someone more senior in your client organization. Usually, it is fairly easy to clear up misunderstandings at that level.
- If you have major concerns and you are unable to resolve them, seek legal advice to determine your options.
Perhaps the best way to reduce risk is to generate leads proactively. Instead of passively waiting for the phone to ring or email inquiries to land in your inbox, reach out to former clients and colleagues with whom you have already established a relationship of trust. Update them about your offerings and let them know that you are open for business.
To learn more about guarding your intellectual assets, read Why Do Prospective Clients "Fall Off the Face of the Earth?"
Photo Credit: businesssarah