Protect Your Intellectual Property…Or Else! A Cautionary Tale

One of my all-time-favourite business gurus is the amazing Verne Harnish, (pictured left with moi!).  Verne is recognised internationally as ‘The Growth Guy’, and is author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits. Verne’s other great claim to fame is his One-Page Strategic Plan.

This sensational one-page strategic wonder, has literally changed my business since I began using it in September 2007 after I attended a one-day workshop of Verne’s that was hosted by The Growth Faculty

I understand from Verne that he tried some time ago to protect the intellectual property of that document, but because the content of the plan was somewhat generic, he was unable to secure a trademark on it.  Verne being the generous teacher that he is, decided then to make the 1-page strategic plan an open-source document so that any business owner or manager could simply download it, without any obligation, from his website (you can check it out by clicking here…)

This wasn’t so much of a problem… previously. 

Recently, after many attempts, the trademark rights for a one-page strategic plan has been sought by someone else and Verne has been sent a ‘cease and desist’ letter regarding his use of the one-page strategic plan – a business resource that he has popularised the world-over no less!

While I can’t comment on much more of this situation as it is a legal matter, it is a timely and painful reminder of the importance of protecting our intellectual property.  In this case, when the IP is not branded or readily identifiable with an individual or a business, the need can be even greater.

So what’s the lesson here… not to stop sharing great ideas, but to take steps to protect your most important business collateral – your original thoughts, ideas, plans and concepts – just as you would your plant, equipment, and computer files. 

And if by chance you wind-up in a predicament similar to Verne, send a templated affidavit to your database asking if your contacts would be willing to sign a formal document acknowledging their awareness of your rightful ownership to your own IP. 

So, if you are a fan of Verne’s and use, or are familiar with, his one-page plan, please feel free to sign an affidavit which can be downloaded from here: http://www.gazelles.com/AffidavitLlink/

Publicity QueenYours in PR

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