Intellectual Property is a fascinating side of business. It wasn't until recently that I started to see how expansive IP litigation can be and how companies use IP to add brand value. I always thought that it was the logo recognition that was most important (when you see an apple on a computer, you think of Apple...), but it's also about protecting your company's identity in terms of key words, themes, and association. These rules differ greatly from country to country-- intra and inter-- and category to category.

In a lot of ways, IP acts as a land grab for businesses, especially ones with a lot of cash. If you're a footwear company, why not protect your brand in apparel, jewelry, watches, umbrellas, furniture, medical tools, and wall paper? Why not protect your brand in every conceivable derivative of what you're able to produce?

It's prudent too, and when a company goes to sell or make an exit, the purchasing company cares a great deal about the IP you own and how protected you are from competition. Typically (and, perhaps sadly...), more so than the product you make.

Brandon Cohn