Minneapolis patent attorney Mark Stignani discusses the benefits of an audit action sheet.
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What are the benefits for using an audit action sheet? Well, when I’m doing an audit, there’s, again, I will say there’s tons of moving parts, especially when you get into portfolios of 500 patents, 300 trademarks, a whole bunch of copyrights and domain names. So what the audit action sheet helps me do to formulate my thoughts and formulate the thoughts of my business partners and clientele is what is important, what is the ranking of those various assets, how important are they in the perception of the client. It also helps me understand the interrelationship between a trademark, a patent, a domain name, a copyright. They all have a relationship, and if I can capture that in my audit action sheet, I find that a useful tool to sit and discuss with my clients.
It also helps me find orphans. Now, let me tell you what an orphan is. An IP orphan is a registration or a trade secret or something that the company’s had, but they don’t really have a place for it. They don’t have an ownership for it. It doesn’t belong in one division or another. So when I can find an orphan, that’s either a quick decision to get rid of it, or it’s found money in some ways – that there’s a value to that orphan that no one remembered they had. So it also helps me to discover what’s expiring. So if I’m doing an audit and I find that there are assets, inventions that have gone on sale, if there renewals and expiring patents that need to be paid, this helps me identify those very quickly and then triage those and make those – save those assets for later.
It also helps the client, if they’re going to do an acquisition or disposal, to show the acquiring company or the disposing company a clean balance sheet when it comes to intellectual property: “Here’s everything we own.” You look very professional, look very neat and very clean. And it also just saves time and money when you’re discussing something with a client ’cause then they can go to the sheet and find it. Here’s what their priority was on it, and they can make some decisions fairly quickly.