Farmer attitudes to their intellectual property (IP) may be on the verge of a major change over the next 5 to 10 years. And it’s important that farmers start protecting their interests along the way.
Big data is changing the way we understand farms and the way we value them. All the data collected about livestock, land and growing conditions has value. Good data helps a farmer build more efficient and profitable farming systems. In time, poor data may be the reason a farm loses its competitive edge.
Traditionally there has been little reason for farmers to protect their IP and it hasn’t been thought to have great value. The financial value of business processes and farming methods has been difficult to quantify. That may be changing and the long term consequences could be significant.
So just what IP does your farm actually possess? Modern farm IP can be thought of as falling into two categories of data:
Business information and technical data can be used in tandem to cut costs, increase efficiency and raise profitability. As the average size of farms continue to grow the use of data can create a more efficient way to manage at scale.
In the long term it’s conceivable that IP information about a farm could directly influence its value. Neighbouring farms could develop a competitive advantage and potential purchasers with access to farm data could better differentiate one property from another.
Understanding the long term value of farm IP and data is still in its infancy but farmers need to be thinking about their rights today.
The takeaway message is that farmers need to have exclusive ownership of the IP and the right to protect their data for the long term. Some tips for managing your IP on the farm: