IP’s many hats in the FMCG sector

IP’s many hats in the FMCG sector

The Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry provides an interesting and challenging market when it comes to intellectual property (IP) rights. As one of the most crowded and competitive markets, it has become crucial for FMCG companies to use IP rights strategically to achieve sustainable growth, profitability and a competitive advantage.

Creating an IP strategy requires the organisation to establish policies and processes to identify, capture, organise and protect their IP portfolio, which might include trademarks, patents, designs and trade secrets. Having a professional conduct an ‘IP audit’ can be extremely useful, especially where the IP has been developed haphazardly over time. Emphasising respect for, and protection of, IP rights is not only prudent risk and compliance management, it can also set the tone from the top down, creating a positive “IP culture” for the organisation.

Having an IP strategy will place an FMCG organisation in good stead to deal with challenges as they arise, such as the growth of the house brand or private label. If new product development is sufficiently protected before entering the market, the organisation has much more power to establish a dominant position in the marketplace or leverage their IP for alternative income streams.

To maintain a competitive edge, organisations must go a step further and monitor and enforce their IP rights against third party infringers. The ability to recognise threats and understand how to effectively deal to them, is vital to any FMCG company’s long-term success.

Today, socially responsible organisations have a knowledge and understanding of their IP rights, but also respect that sharing rights can be of great public benefit. For example, collaborations are becoming increasingly common in the FMCG sector which can be a “win-win” for both sides, creating innovative products for the greater good. Equitable sharing in technological processes is another way organisations are harnessing their respective IP powers. Getting expert advice early on is advisable before embarking on any new product development or collaboration journey.

James & Wells are one of New Zealand’s largest, privately owned, patent and trade mark attorney firms. Their award-winning team is widely recognised as one of the very best in Australasia.


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