Know-how is the practical knowledge, techniques, skills and expertise that an individual or organisation has, such as the experience or knowledge relating to a system or process, or the implementation of a new innovation or piece of technology. It is an intangible form of intellectual property which, as with other forms of intellectual property, can be bought, sold, licensed, etc.
It can be very important with patent licenses as the knowledge needed to use or implement the patented technology may require expert skills held by the patent owner, which if not considered may make the patent on its own useless to another party.
Know-how isn’t something that can be formally protected or registered as with other forms of intellectual property. As it is intangible knowledge it needs to be kept secret for it to retain its value, so when discussing skills, techniques, knowledge, etc. with external parties a non-disclosure agreement may be needed. Likewise, when it is licensed to another party along with a patent, for example, the know-how will need to be included in the licence agreement and kept confidential under it.
Know-how can be complicated and difficult to protect so it is best to get in touch with us if you have any queries.