Do you invent unique software for others? Or maybe you have developed a process or equipment which is distinct to your business? Perhaps you are in the creative industry generating original brand material or architectural plans.
Each example above has one thing in common: Intellectual Property (IP).
IP is a genuine asset (which can represent hidden value) worthwhile of legally protecting, including:
- Preventing copycat activity which could destroy the competitive advantage of your business eg, Dyson’s patented ground-breaking ‘no loss of suction’ vacuum cleaners.
- Protecting the unique position your business has in the marketplace by ensuring the copyright of your company’s brand statement belongs to you eg, John Lewis: Never Knowingly Undersold.
In short, legally protecting your IP reduces risk and encourages the commitment of resources for further innovation. Promoting and protecting IP drives economic growth, creates new jobs and industries.
The following information covers why registering IP is important and how it can protect you.
Why protect Intellectual Property?
In today’s connected world ideas and inventions can easily and rapidly be replicated anywhere in the world, and similarly a process can be hacked or re-engineered.
Realising the value of IP for yourself or your business starts with having the right IP strategy at the outset to protect your ideas and inventions, including IP theft. Setting out a clear strategy supports your goals, reveals your position in the marketplace, and exposes barriers to entering the market or achieving growth.
How can Intellectual Property protect your business?
IP covers inventions, literary and artistic works and symbols, names and images used in commerce and can be divided into two categories:
- Industrial Property – patents for inventions, trade marks and industrial designs.
- Copyright – literary works (such as novels, poems and plays), films, music, artistic works and architectural designs. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of vocal recordings, and broadcasters in their radio and television programs.
What is a patent?
A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, a product or a process which provides an original way of doing something, or that offers a new technical solution to a problem. A patent provides patent owners with protection for their inventions, generally for 20 years once granted.
Why secure a patent?
As a patent owner, patent protection means your invention cannot be commercially manufactured, used, distributed or sold without your consent. You may give permission to, or license, others to use your patents on agreed terms. Owners may also sell their invention rights to someone else who then becomes the new owner of the patent.
What is a Trade Mark?
A trade mark is a distinctive sign which identifies certain goods or services produced or provided by an individual or a company. This helps customers to identify and purchase products or services based on their specific characteristics and quality as indicated by their unique trade marks.
Why register a Trade Mark?
As a trade mark owner you would have a legal ability to prevent others from using your brand which you have invested in developing. Arguably more importantly, trade mark protection is an asset which can increase in value. For example, Coca Cola® is one of the biggest brands on the planet and of its estimated $60 billion value over 75% is associated with the Coca Cola® brand.
What is an Industrial Design?
An industrial design is the aesthetics of a product. A design may include three-dimensional features such as the shape or surface, or two-dimensional features such as patterns, lines or colours.
Why protect an Industrial Design?
As an owner protecting an industrial design provides you with the exclusive right to prevent unauthorised copying or imitation of the design by someone else. Industrial designs are what make products attractive, adding to their commercial value and increasing marketability.
What is Copyright?
Copyright provides authors, artists and other creators protection for their literary and artistic creations, generally referred to as ‘works’.
Why choose to Copyright work(s)?
Once you create the work (or works) you are protected by copyright, and your successors have rights under copyright law. You hold the exclusive right to use or authorise others to use your work on agreed terms. The right holder of the work can agree or prevent its:
- reproduction in all forms, including print and sound recording
- public performance and communication to the public
- broadcasting; its translation into other languages
- adaptation, such as from a novel to a screenplay for a film.
IP is complex area with the potential for creators to lose £millions if they are not sufficiently protected (or by straying into IP infringement).
Using IP to protect you or your business can take time, but is a valuable long term investment. Consider the alternative: failing to protect your IP can result in someone else copying your idea or process and using it to gain the competitive edge, losing you money and potentially damaging your reputation if the copycat product is of poor quality.
If you would like an initial conversation about protecting your IP, avoiding others violating your IP, or developing a robust IP strategy, our experienced IP legal team headed by Michael Embra can help. Or please email or call our IP team.
There is no charge for this short consultation as it is more important to us that you receive the best assessment of your situation and advice about what to do next. If you decide you would like to use our IP service, our team can then provide you with details about the processes, timing, and cost.
Also, if you find yourself in a dispute over IP, contact us straight away. Our experienced team has a proven track record of resolving a wide range of disputes, proactively avoiding very costly and time consuming litigation wherever possible.