How Do I Protect My Business’ Intellectual Property?

Posted on: 23 , November 2017

Dave Hopkins from the government’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) offers ten top tips for how Lancashire businesses can get the most from their intellectual property (IP).

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is the official UK government body responsible for intellectual property (IP) rights including patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.

As part of my role with the IPO, I was recently invited by Boost to deliver a half-day workshop on intellectual property (IP) at the Globe Centre in Accrington.

It was great to speak to a range of businesses, such as software developers and instrument suppliers, about how they can better protect and use their IP.

Many businesses are unsure of what IP they use or own, so it’s really important for businesses to understand the different areas of IP.

Doing so will ensure they know how they can use their IP to maximise their business’ potential and also help them avoid costly mistakes. So if you are a business owner, do you know what IP is within your business?

To help those who don’t, I have created a list of my top ten suggestions you may want to consider:

• Don’t assume you don’t have any IP: All businesses, regardless of size or industry, own or use IP assets.

• Research your ideas: Find out if your invention, name or design is already available or being used. It could save you time and money in future by avoiding costly mistakes.

• Learn more about IP: Before applying, gain a basic knowledge of IP to ensure you’re getting the best protection. The Intellectual Property Office’s free online tool, IP Equip, can help.

• Realise its worth: IP is a highly valuable asset. It could account for over 70% of your business’ value.

• Keep things confidential: New innovations should be kept out of the public domain until you have the protection required. Think about NDAs (non disclosure agreements) when speaking to third parties. Please also remember that an early disclosure of your invention could invalidate a patent application.

• Consider a trade mark: Registered trade marks offer many benefits. Besides protecting your company name/logo, you can sell, franchise or licence your mark.

• Know who owns your copyright: Be aware that third parties creating materials for your business will own the copyright unless you put a contract in place to transfer it.

• Embed it in your contracts: Clearly state in employee contracts that all IP created is owned by the company, not the employee.

• Conduct a basic IP audit: You can conduct a free basic audit on the IPO website.

• Contact Boost and have a chat with one of its team of advisers.

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