What is Intellectual Property?
It is a collection of lots of different rights. Intellectual Property (IP) covers a wide range of parts of your business that have a lot of value and can be the source of a lot of your success - things like:
- Your trading name, product names and domain names (when used or registered)
- The way your products look
- Content you create (pictures, articles, etc)
- Technological advances when recorded and registered as patents
- Client databases
- Secret processes
- The above translate into Trade Marks, Designs, Copyright, Patents and Trade Secrets.
The value of intangible assets (such as Intellectual Property) of a business is increasing over time, with it being estimated that 87% of the total value of businesses in 2015 being made up of intangible assets (Ocean Tomo, LLC).
Why should I take action?
There are three major issues:
- You may inadvertently (or consciously!) be infringing the rights of another by coming too close to their rights, meaning that you might be vulnerable to legal claims against you
- Someone else may be getting too close to you (or may plan to) - particularly if you haven’t protected your IP – and you may be powerless to stop it
- You may be failing to make the most of these potential jewels – not exploiting them on a day-to-day basis, and not identifying them for when you come to sell or value your business. Like any physical asset (like property or machinery) they have a value and once identified and protected there is the same ability to use it yourself, allow others to use it for their purposes or sell it off
What we often find is that when a business understands its IP, it becomes more successful. Once it knows where the intrinsic value in its business comes from, it can focus on making more of it, putting more into it and becoming even more successful.
What is a Trade Mark?
- Protects signs which distinguish businesses from one another
- Potentially last forever
- Provide a monopoly against the use of identical/similar signs
- Are applied for and need to be renewed (usually every 10 years)
Why should I consider Trade Marks?
- Creates Brand Loyalty
- Differentiates your product or service
- Your TM is an intangible asset
- Gives you added protection
- Provides you with legal rights
- Alleviates fear of being copied
- Can be relatively inexpensive
- Relevant to Small and Medium sized companies
What steps should I take?
The first step is to get IP aware – to identify what IP is used and created by you, to establish which bits might be protectable and to establish whether you are inadvertently breaching someone else’s IP. You should get an expert in to give the business an “audit”. This may reveal areas that require further action, such as protecting your trade mark/s through registration.
Some IP needs registration via formal procedures (e.g. trade marks), whilst other types do not, and getting an IP strategy in place will give you more peace of mind that you are capturing the full value from your business.
What will it cost?
Like a real property, it depends what you want. Depending on what the audit reveals and your plans for the business, a well-considered report will put a plan in place to fit your budget and pace of growth.
If you would like more information on a no-obligation basis (whether you are new to IP or have existing advisors), or you feel that your business could do with an IP audit then please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01327 223555.