There are many potential business benefits to outsourcing. It may be cheaper to manufacture a product in a different country, for example. Or maybe a strategic partnership with a foreign business can help open the door to international success.
However, introducing your intellectual property to the global stage is not a risk-free proposition. The more parties that have access to a piece of information, the more vulnerable it becomes. But there are solutions.
The risks of outsourcing
Each country has its own intellectual property laws. Some have regulations similar to those in the U.S., while others operate under much more lax standards. By outsourcing part of your business, you are exposing your IP to some new risks. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, that can include:
- Breach of contract
- Theft or misappropriation of trade secrets
- Misuse of IP rights
- The loss of IP rights, potentially putting part of the business in peril
- Infringement of IP rights
- Counterfeit products
- Poor or inconsistent quality
These risks should be fully evaluated before choosing to expand internationally.
Protecting IP globally
While there are risks to outsourcing, there are tools to mitigate those risks. In addition to doing everything possible to protect your intellectual property at home, it is crucial you take steps to protect it worldwide. Examples of possible protective measures include:
- The utilization of patent, trademark and copyright notices
- Extending trademark registration
- Dividing your outsourcing efforts, so no single third party has all your IP information
- Creating non-disclosure agreements for business partners, based on local laws
- Finding legal counsel who knows how to navigate foreign court systems
- Extending patent protection
Working with partners across the globe is critical to many companies’ long-term success. But you do not want to jump into international business waters without a plan to protect your valuable IP.