Posted on 5/6/2014

Can you afford not to protect your intellectual property?

Many UK SMEs are unaware of their intellectual property (commonly called “IP”) rights, with most failing to take advantage of benefits arising from their valuable IP assets.

The term “intellectual property” covers a wide range of rights, bringing with them a commercial advantage if used properly. These rights include rights in inventions, trade marks, design rights and database rights, to name a few. It is important to seek IP advice as early and often as possible so that you are clear on what your options are.

Make sure you retain a commercial advantage through your IP rights

Protecting and exploiting your IP rights could give you an important commercial offensive tool, as well as a defensive tool, against competitors, but sadly many businesses fail to seek the most appropriate protection or even any protection at all. As a business owner you could stand to lose market advantage, licensing opportunities and commercial bargaining chips if your IP rights are not managed.

Summary of IP rights

Some IP rights can be protected by registering them and others may be protected automatically, without the owner having to do anything.

Here is a snapshot summary of different types of core IP rights:

  • Patents protect inventions and when registered can give you a 20 year monopoly on the claimed invention from the date of filing. Costs depend on the number of countries where protection is desired, and if there is any opposition to the grant of the patent, but a granted patent can be an extremely powerful right to own.
  • Trade marks protect your brand names, logos, straplines and many other things. With the right advice your registration could potentially protect your brand forever, as long as you renew your rights every 10 years. A registered trade mark will allow you to quickly enforce your trade mark rights against online counterfeiting as well as against traditional retail sales of infringing products.
  • Registered designs protect the shape, surface patterns or artwork of your product or packaging and are cost effective and reasonably quick to obtain. A registered design can last for up to 25 years and is a useful form of protection for a product which is purchased at least partly due to is visual appearance.
  • Unregistered rights include copyright, unregistered design rights and database rights and are normally automatically protected upon creation of the relevant material or article. In these cases you do not need to do anything except state your rights and use them to your advantage. An unregistered design right could be used to claim rights in just part of a product’s shape, which in turn may stop competitors from taking a core design and changing a select few elements but still take advantage of the important features of the design.

The Patent Box government scheme

We can also advise you on a government tax relief scheme called The Patent Box which we advise all companies undertaking R&D to look into. You could potentially receive a significant amount of tax relief resulting in an effective tax rate of around 11% on profits generated globally from products covered by a UK or European patent. For more detailed information on this click here and request our free special report on the subject.

Call our team today

Intellectual property can be a daunting subject but our clear, expert advice can ensure that you are fully armed to take advantage of your IP rights. Understanding your options is vital. Contact us today for a free initial consultation by clicking here.

Wilson Gunn