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Protecting Your Company's Most Important Assets

Think of your company's intangible assets as the foundation of your business. Without them, you've just got a pile of rubble.
November 1, 2001

It certainly isn't news that we now live in the Information Age. But in an economy so dependent on service and technology companies, often the most valuable business assets aren't the heavy equipment or machinery in the factory, but the intangible assets woven throughout the fabric of the organization.

It's these intangible and proprietary assets that enable a company to distinguish itself from competitors. Intangible assets such as intellectual property, trade secrets, pricing formulas, customer lists, business plans, recipes and the like are typically the foundation upon which a company is built in a business world full of copycat competitors. After all, every pizza shop has an oven, but not every pizza shop has the secret family recipe for the sauce that was handed down from your grandmother to your father and now to you.

Without the ability to bolt these assets down to the floor, you'd be wise to develop a strategy to properly protect your intangible assets, thus positioning your company to grow and prosper against your competitors. As a responsible business owner, it is incumbent upon you to do everything in your power to protect those very valuable assets.

How do you protect assets that you may not be able to see, or at best that exist only on a piece of paper or on a hard drive? First things first: Make sure you sit down with an attorney well-versed in issues related to intangible asset protection. Here are some of the ways you can protect your intangibles:

Theft of your most valuable assets or loss of assets due a calamity can ruin an emerging business. When you leave your home in the morning, you lock your front door to protect your personal property. Why not do the same for your company's most valuable business property?

Bill Fiduccia is a founding partner of BizPlanIt, a professional business planning consulting firm that helps early-stage, emerging-growth and established companies prepare clear, concise and compelling business plans that get results. David G. Beauchamp and Karen R. Dickinson of the law firm Quarles & Brady Streich Lang LLP contributed to this article.