Image:Kieran Killough – Patent Attorney at HGF, Manchester talks about making the most of Intellectual Property.
Using Intellectual Property to Compete
Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, and intellectual property rights (IPRs) provide their owner with a monopoly for those creations. Some of the most common types of IPRs are patents, trade marks, designs and copyright where each IPR is designed to protect a specific type of intellectual creation.
IPRs may be used by their holder to increase its competitiveness by preventing others from exploiting their creations for a limited period of time. Thus, innovation and creation can be pursued and funded with the prospect of being able to obtain a monopoly that allows expenditure to be recouped whilst the creations are commercially exploited.
Monopolies provided by IPRs such as patents provide the holder with a competitive advantage that may allow the owner to charge a greater price for their product or service, provide product exclusivity, provide a greater market share or generate a licensing income. Being saleable assets, IPRs also add value to a business, and there are many success stories where businesses have been sold or attracted investment on the basis of a strong IPR portfolio.
It goes without saying that before IPRs can be exploited, they must first be identified. However, a surprising number of businesses overestimate the height of the bar and difficulty of gaining IPRs, often missing out on acquiring and benefiting from them. In these challenging economic times, businesses need any commercial edge that is available to them. Together with the soon to be introduced Patent Box (a UK tax initiative providing reduced corporation tax on profits derived from patented products or processes), this is an attractive time to really look at potentially protectable IP in your business.
Rather than assessing potential IP protection from a technical standpoint, companies should thinking about the commercial benefit. A key question to ask when considering whether to protect new innovation is: if we monopolise the benefits that the innovation provides to the consumer, can we make more money? If the answer is yes, then advice should be sought as to whether that innovation could be protected by a patent or other IPR. Good patent and trade mark attorneys will be able to assist in identifying potentially protectable aspects of a business which may add commercial value to your company and provide you with a competitive edge.
Harrison Goddard Foote (HGF) and its sister firm, HGF Law, boast a diverse commercially-minded team of patent attorneys, trade mark attorneys and IP solicitors who work seamlessly together to provide a comprehensive IP service across the UK.