Defining Intellectual Property | Digital Guardian

Defining Intellectual Property

Seventh in a Series from Former DuPont CISO on Trade Secret Protection for Manufacturers

What isn’t known can’t be protected. Every kingdom has its crown jewels, and every manufacturer should know where all of its most valuable and potentially profitable intellectual property resides.

IP can be defined as any type of financial, business, scientific, technical, customer and engineering information which is deemed proprietary. Every manufacturer files patents to protect their inventions, industrial designs and plant processes – but trade secrets can also include plans, prototypes, procedures and in-process research, among other assets. Any intangible information, even employee knowledge and ideas, is worthy of protection.

Intellectual Property can be broadly defined as:

  • Patents & trademarks
  • Financial data
  • Industrial designs
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Plans & prototypes
  • Plant procedures
  • R&D testing
  • Customer information
  • Names, codes & lists

The process of identifying and classifying all of your enterprise IP is not an easy one. There is a good reason why in a previous post in this series I recommended that you form an IP Risk Committee. That body has IP protection leaders appointed from each business unit and horizontal function. They know where their jewels are hidden, including stored in cloud services which may/may not be authorized (e.g. Dropbox). They need to both lead this effort and assume accountability for the protection of their own crown jewels.

Many believe this is the job of IT, but it’s not. IT security personnel should instead help with tools, best practices and resources to identify and classify your organization’s crown jewels.

Download my e-book covering 5 key IP protection tips to follow, based on the practical experience of Digital Guardian’s manufacturing industry customers.

Read the full series:

  1. The Threats to Your Trade Secrets are Real
  2. Why Offshoring Complicates IP Protection
  3. Calculating the True Cost of IP Theft
  4. Make the Case for Investment in Ongoing IP Protection
  5. How to Form an IP Risk Committee
  6. 7 Elements of a Holistic IP Protection Plan
  7. Defining Intellectual Property
  8. Lock up your IP and Control Access to it
  9. Discover the Weaknesses in Your IP Security
  10. Improve Your Ability to Detect Cyber-Attacks


Larry Brock

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Larry Brock

Larry Brock (CISM) is the former global CISO at DuPont, a post he held for 11 years. He also served as CIO of DuPont’s Nylon Flooring business unit, as Information Security Officer in the U.S. Air Force and at the National Security Agency (NSA) for four years. Mr. Brock currently consults to companies helping them to improve their IP protection capabilities.

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