What data is the most valuable to your business? How are you leveraging It? How are you protecting it?

    We see the expressions everywhere “Data is the new oil”, “Data isn’t the new oil, it’s more valuable”, and “The most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data”. Having a data-strategy is no longer optional for businesses.  A business can level up their data strategy by intertwining it with their intellectual property (IP) strategy.

    A popular focus for data and IP is on copyright and the training of models. Governments are grappling with how to manage it and how it interplays with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Some are more restrictive such as the European Union, whereas some are more permissive like Japan. Businesses are battling it out, for example the copyright infringement suit between the New York Times and Microsoft/OpenAI. The future is here and how it will play out remains to be seen.

    However, the impact of data as an asset is larger than just copyright and training. Therefore, it is worthwhile to take a step back and evaluate data assets holistically.

    Step 1:

    The first step is shifting perspective to view intellectual property (IP) through a larger scope than just conventional registrable rights such as patents and trademarks. Whether it be a particularly impactful data set or methods of handling or using data – this can bolster competitive advantage. Recognizing data as an intangible asset that creates opportunities, value, and risk is crucial.

    Step 2:

    Pragmatically, companies will have more data than they can effectively manage or should be focusing on strategically. Which makes understanding and identifying your most impactful data crucial. This requires recognizing which data and data-related innovations are valuable to advancing business objectives, unlocking opportunities, and minimizing risk and what is just ‘noise’.

    Initially, create an understanding of what data you have or would want to acquire. Include considerations not only on yours and other’s data, but also jurisdictional and regulatory considerations.

    Thereafter, strategically review how you can create a competitive advantage with that data. This can include both how data fits in with your current business model and the art of possibility going forward.

    How to leverage your data is dependent on where you want to go. However, take a moment to take stock in how effectively that data is currently leveraged and what gaps or next steps will be needed. By intentionally characterizing and prioritizing high impact data and incorporating intellectual property strategy tactics into the data roadmap, opportunities and value can be maximized while risk is reduced.

    Step 3:

    Once you have identified which data is valuable to your business and its direction, focus on the tactics. What a business can realistically implement will usually be different than the aspirational ideal. Pragmatism is your ally here.

    This could mean starting with a focused initiative that helps either achieve a business goal or solves a problem, and then building a larger initiative on that quick win.

    Generally, the following will help with making your strategy implementable:

      • Start with the end in mind.
      • Make the tactics concrete and explicit.
      • Keep the future in mind but stay focused on scope. Achievements are built on implementable iterations.  
      • Do not reinvent the wheel. Bring in the right expert, whether that is an internal resource or an external solution (technology, partnership, etc…).

    Some intellectually property tactics for data and data-related innovations could include:

      • Individuals should understand the value of the data they handle and the repercussions of misuse. This requires a two pronged approach.
        • Foster an innovation minded culture that sees data as a valuable asset which is included when IP mining.
        • Support IP awareness training on how to handle confidential information including best practices to minimize risk of accidental disclosure.
      • Once data and data-related innovations are identified, layer multiple intellectual property rights such as copyright, patents, and trade secrets. For example, although raw data points may be considered facts and are not privy to copyright protection, creative arrangements and how you structure or annotate said data could be. Your data sets or the algorithms by which to analyze them could be protected by trade secrets. While methods and systems to manipulate the data more effectively could be protected by a utility patent.
      • Incorporate IP ownership and terms-of-use into any contracts that involve data. This is particularly important when it comes to derivatives and transformed data in licensing agreements.
      • Be intentional around the data used to train internal models or as input for generative AI. Similarly, be intentional around data released for training others’ models.
      • Mitigate risk of targeted attacks on confidential proprietary information. This includes implementing not only structural cybersecurity processes but also employee training to increase awareness of phishing techniques.

    As we stated, the future is here and how it will play out remains to be seen. If you have not yet started your data strategy journey – start now. The data and IP landscapes will continue to evolve as will your business.

    Interested to see how you can apply an intellectual property strategy perspective to your data strategy? The Stratford Intellectual Property team at Stratford Group Ltd. is happy to help.



    About the Author:

    Myriam Davidson An innovation strategist, Myriam Davidson specializes in intellectual property strategy, with a focus on in information management to fully utilize information sources to advance business objectives, drive innovation, identify market opportunities, and minimize risk. Starting with the end in mind, Myriam aligns developing a company’s IP strategy in service of the business strategy setting the company up on a path for continued growth and success. Myriam’s distinctive skills led to her ranking on the IAM Strategy 300 global list of Leading IP Strategists, an annual guide of individuals who have demonstrated the ability to deliver a world-class IP value creation service offering.