How much is your Intellectual Property worth?
One of the most valuable assets for start-up and established businesses alike is its Intellectual Property (IP). With many lenders requesting details of how a business has protected its IP and with more lenders willing to accept IP as security for finance, all businesses should take a long hard look at what IP they have, what IP they should protect and how they can best exploit it. Inevitably this will lead to a balancing act between getting the business/product/idea up and running and getting the right level of IP protection.
Whatever other steps a business may or should take in relation to protecting its IP, it should get its trademark protected, add copyright marks to its key works and if it is going to allow anyone access to sensitive IP then it should get the other party to sign a robust non-disclosure/confidentiality agreement.
Set out below are just a few of the key IP rights that the majority of businesses should think about, but there are many others. For all forms of IP, thought will need to be given as to whether protection is required just for the UK or also for Europe, the USA and the rest of the world.
Trademarks: Almost every business will have a brand so that clients/customers know who they are dealing with. As such, almost every business should apply to have its trademark registered so that they then have exclusive right to use their logo or name in relation to the relevant types of goods and services. Businesses spend a lot of time and money (whether they realise it or not) building a strong brand so that customers and clients use them instead of their competitors. Given that it is one of a business’ most valuable assets, it needs to be protected. If you are a start-up business then careful thought should be given as to what sort of distinctive name/logo/brand you want, to ensure that your business is memorable to the people that matter.
Copyright: Copyright covers a very wide spectrum of works including writings; websites; databases; music; videos; paintings; plus many others. Rather than protecting an idea, it protects how the artist has expressed that idea. Copyright protection will exist automatically and so no application or registrations are required. As long as the work is original, you will have copyright protection. However, it is still very important to ‘remind the world’ that key parts of your work are protected through copyright so as to act as a warning to them. You should also take steps if anyone infringes your copyright, particularly if it could harm your business.
Patents: To be able to obtain a patent for a new product/invention/idea, the new product/invention/idea must be novel and have practical use. For many small businesses, patents are not going to be applicable but where a business is going to have a competitive edge due to a new product/invention/idea, advice should be taken as to whether a patent is possible, appropriate and cost effective. Although obtaining patents is quite a time consuming and often costly process, once a patent is obtained it can be an extremely valuable asset as it prevents any competitors using the registered patents for decades.
For an initial free no obligation discussion about your business and what steps it should take to protect its IP, contact James Peterson by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01752 203520.