“Charleston Reboot: a Historic City Now Driven by Innovation,” Charleston Business Magazine
Corky Klett authored an article for the October 2022 issue of Charleston Business Magazine highlighting the region’s shift to a technology-driven economy. After relocating to Charleston from Columbia earlier this year to provide counsel on intellectual property for businesses in the region’s active innovation economy, Klett detailed the region's bustling sectors as well as the importance of IP assets for these businesses and steps to identify and protect them.
“Over the last decade, Charleston has greatly diversified its economy by focusing on technology-driven industries,” Klett said. “Tourism has been replaced by aerospace, automotive, and information technology as the leading economic drivers.”
While these industries appear to be different at first glance, their reliance upon intellectual property is a very important common attribute.
“Surprisingly, many companies do not recognize that they have valuable intangible property to protect. Many believe that these issues have no relevance outside high-tech industries. This is simply not the case,” Klett added “While many businesses may not have the need for patent protection of inventions developed in a sophisticated research and development department, most companies have internet domain names, confidential or proprietary information, databases, service or trademarks, and business or trade names. Likewise, most businesses rely upon and use the intellectual property rights of others, usually in the form of computer software. A company must be mindful of all of these assets.”
The first step to protecting these assets is an inquiry into what the company has on hand, including any proprietary software and other patentable or copyrightable subject matter that should be protected. This should also include a look at what employees do for the company and existing protections, like nondisclosure or noncompetition agreements, and a look outside the company to take inventory of third-party rights and licenses. These audits shouldn’t be a one-and-done process but an ongoing aspect of business management.
“Operating within an innovation-driven environment also presents challenges from competitors,” Klett added. “While it is essential to develop and protect company IP assets, infringing upon the rights of competitors must also be avoided.”
“Innovation and creativity is driving Charleston in the 21st century. With this reboot comes corporate expansion, jobs with increased pay, and a diversified, sustainable economy,” Klett concluded. “Successful businesses exhibiting IP mindfulness will be poised to thrive in this economic environment, capturing and commercializing creative output.”
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