What Intellectual Property Do You Have In Your Business?
Before talking about intellectual property, let me ask you this. Do you believe you have adequate protection to safeguard your company’s assets?
You might think the answer is yes because you have all necessary insurances in place, you have a business disaster recovery/continuity plan, and you go out of your way to retain the talent within your business.
But what specific measures have you taken to protect your intellectual property?
Rather than woolly protection dreamt up by a bunch of legal brains determined to get extract as much cash as possible from you in fees, intellectual property protects genuine business assets that are vital to overall long-term viability.
What is intellectual property?
In a nutshell, intellectual property lets you own the work you create.
It can be a brand and logo, invention, design, creative work, product, service, or process that makes your business offering unique.
How can you protect your IP?
While you can’t protect an idea itself, you can protect how you put the idea into operation.
Depending on individual circumstances, you can use:
- Patents –the way a product works
- Trade marks –what a product is called
- Copyright –what a product says
- Registered design –the way a product looks
These are enforced to prevent anyone else from using your ideas for their profit without your consent.
Why should you protect your IP?
As a sole trader or small business owner, you probably think you don’t have any IP to protect.
You couldn’t be further from the truth.
Your brand name conveys the goodwill of your product or service, which is an intangible asset that leads consumers to, or back to, your original product or service.
Protecting your unique products or services stops competitors praying on your success to steal market share, which will result in a loss of revenue. Losing market share can be devastating and, if you try going after the guilty party without any legal protection, time-consuming.
In fact, businesses of all sizes need IP protection – remember the multi-million-pound lawsuit between Apple and Samsung over their smartphones?
Is protecting your intellectual property expensive?
A lot of small and midsized business owners, like you, run in the opposite direction when it comes to IP issues because of:
- Government bureaucracy
- Lengthy, tedious applications
- Deciding on the right form of protection
On top of that, it’s your responsibility to check if your intellectual property has been infringed.
That’s why, as with all legal issues, we recommend you consult a professional before you begin. It will save you a lot of time and frustration.
Rachael Ward, of Ward Trade Marks, offers a detailed IP review to give her clients a strategy on what to protect and why. Find out more by calling +44 (0) 1223 421779 for an informal chat.
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