In our latest guest blog Dave Hopkins of the Intellectual Property Office explains all you need to know about Intellectual Property (IP) guidance for your business.
We all know that when starting or growing a business, there are a whole host of procedures and requirements you need to remember and follow.
Often, thinking about how to protect your intellectual property is the last thing on your mind. But did you know it’s one of the most valuable assets your business will own? It could account for over 70% of the value of your business and you can use it to generate the income you need for growth.
What is IP?
IP is the collective name for the group of rights that protect your intangible assets. This includes creative works, know-how and technological innovations. There are four main types of IP:
- Patents - these protect new inventions and innovations
- Trade marks - these protect your company name and logo (or your brand)
- Designs - these protect the visual appearance of a product
- Copyright - this protects written and creative works, like music, film and photographs
IP high five
I’ve heard businesses say that venturing into the realms of IP for the first time can be daunting.
With the range of rights available, many struggle to know where to start and the rights that will best protect their assets.
One of the most common things I’m asked for is an IP checklist or top tips guide. A to-do list, if you like, to help businesses identify what they can do to protect themselves. So, these are my top five IP tips:
1. Think about IP from day one
IP should be part of your business plan from the beginning and thought about before you make any decisions. Researching whether your logo infringes someone else’s trade mark might seem like a waste of time. But it could be a worthwhile and cost effective exercise if it helps you avoid future complications.
2. Register your company name as a trademark
You might have registered your company name with Companies House, but have you thought of registering it as a trade mark? A trade mark can help you protect your brand and take action against others who try to use it without permission.
3. Ensure you know who owns your copyright
Copyright can be a tricky issue. If you hire a third party to carry out work on your behalf, for example, creative design, training materials or technical reports, you will need to put a contract in place to transfer the copyright to your company. Without this, the creator will still own the work.
4. Applying for a patent? Use an IP professional
Obtaining a patent can be a lengthy, costly and complicated process. Before applying, you should consider whether the benefits will outweigh the time and money spent. I advise using an IP professional, like a patent attorney or an advisor who specialises in patent applications.
5. Develop your own IP know how
It may seem obvious but if you don’t know what IP your business owns or uses, how will you be able to protect it and commercially exploit it? IP Equip is a free online training tool designed to help you the basics of IP.
Help & guidance
IP for Business is an online toolkit from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). It’s full of free tools, guidance and case studies to help you understand IP and protect your assets. IP Basics is a series of bite-sized animations that break down IP into digestible pieces.