Had lunch the other day with a high tech client that does business all over the world, but mostly in emerging market countries with weak Intellectual property rights and protections, including China. I asked him what his company does to protect its IP and he said they use a “Swiss-Army Knife approach,” meaning they do “everything and anything we can do.”  He talked of the following:

1.  Register everything that it makes sense to register.

2.  Do not reveal to anyone what need not be revealed. This includes to employees. Get confidentiality and trade secret and non-disclosure agreements protecting what is revealed.  

3.  Constantly update the technology so that when someone copies it, they are copying an older version. Educated the customers to know to prefer the newer better versions over the older versions. 

4.  Act aggresively at the first sign of an IP or trade secret violation. He said he could not even count the number of times his company had “nipped a problem in the bud” by having acted quickly. Along these same lines, check out my post from last week on the value of cease and desist letters in China.

4.  Guanxi.  His word, not mine. He said that in addition to all of the above, one of the most important things is having good relationships with your employees and your customers and the governments in the countries in which you operate because having this creates a “karma” (again, his word, not mine) that helps to protect you.

I like it.

What do you think?