The USPTO has launched a new IP assessment tool for small to medium sized enterprises - a particularly useful idea for start-ups and other growing businesses that may not even be sure yet whether they need IP protection.
The tool has two stages: first is a pre-assessment, just 5 questions long it helps you get a basic idea of your organization's current assets and general IP needs. The full assessment goes into much more detail, with 62 questions it takes a deeper look at five IP protection categories (Utility Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, Trade Secrets, and Design Patents) and five general IP categories (IP Strategies & Best Practices, Using Technology of Others, Licensing Technology to Others, International IP Rights and IP Asset Tracking). Based on your assessment results, you are presented with educational materials to help you determine the best practices and next steps for your IP protection needs.
The scope is specific and limited to protection (as opposed to say monetization and litigation) which is a strong starting point for small companies and that aren't sure where, or even if, to begin. If you're a start-up, or a company that has begun to develop research or innovations in-house, we definitely recommend you check it out. Best part, it's completely free!