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Own IP? Here’s an app to keep sight of its value


You would imagine the legal fraternity to be a slouch when it comes to technology. Remember how they were stuck, for years, with the archaic word-processing software WordPerfect?

No longer, it seems.

McCullough Robertson is embracing the iPad, apparently in response to volleys of requests from clients.

The law firm has developed an app that helps users track and protect their intellectual property assets. The McCullough Robertson IP Health Check – as it is called – can ensure Australian companies maximise the value of their IP rights, according to the firm’s partner, David Downie.

“Intellectual property is often overlooked by business owners, despite being as important to a business as its physical assets, such as property and equipment,” Downie said. “The McCullough Robertson IP Health Check application allows users to consider key issues relating to their IP and technology procurement in a matter of minutes.”

IP more valuable than physical assets

The free “health check” app is a guided one that asks a series of 10 questions – something Downie dubs a “micro-IP due diligence.” Based on the user’s responses, the app generates a detailed PDF report that flags risks to your intellectual property.

In 2010, the value of Australian IP exceeded $170 billion in 2010, McCullough Robertson says citing data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The same year, $6 billion worth of IP royalties were traded. Such is the importance of IP in Australia, even if it pales somewhat in comparison to, say, the United States, where the value of intellectual property far exceeds the value of physical property.

“IP protection is far too valuable to be ignored, and if this app helps clients keep such issues to the forefront then we will have helped everyone benefit,” says Downie.

Still, in the hurly burly of business many businesses tend to lose sight of the task of safeguarding one’s IP assets.

“Many organizations do not have their intellectual property in order. For example, they may not have registered their trademark or secured IT from contractors,” Downie pointed out in an email interview with Anthill. Or there could be situations in which “they may even be infringing other people’s IP.” That is why, the health check is “really a form of due diligence you conduct on yourself to see if you are looking after your valuable IP rights the best way you can.”

Given that IP indeed is serious business, why would somebody want to address this, fleetingly perhaps, when on the go?

“The iPad application is the best way we are aware of to do this work quickly, as we know our clients time is valuable and the whole idea of the application is to allow people to conduct a small IP due diligence on themselves in a matter of minutes,” Downie told Anthill.

This resonates with what McCullough Robertson has said: The new App was developed due to client demand for a user-friendly approach using the popular iPad tablet computer.

“Most law firms are somewhat conservative by nature and therefore lagging on information technology trends. However, McCullough Robertson regularly deals with cutting-edge applications for our clients, and it was only natural that we used the same technology in our own business,” he said.

Downie says his firm will build similar apps on other platforms, should there be similar demand.

“We see such applications as being as popular as company websites within the next five years, and are expecting a very strong take-up from the business community across Australia,” he says, adding that Australian businesses are increasingly using the iPad to improve processes ranging from boardroom meetings to sales and other data, making the device an obvious choice.