Even as a small company, having some understanding of IP can help to protect your brand and innovations from others. While not every company has the resources to invest heavily in IP, ensuring that your most valuable assets are protected can help to secure vital funding. Yet not all IP rights are costly — some level of protection can exist automatically. Here’s a quick overview of the main IP rights, some top tips for smaller companies and what you need to know before contacting an IP attorney.
FAQs: Intellectual property
What types of IP are there?
The three main types of registrable IP are patents, trade marks and designs.
According to the European Patent Office and European Union Intellectual Property Office, “SMEs that own a combination of patents, trade marks and registered designs generate almost double (98%) the revenue per employee compared with companies that do not own any of [these] three IP rights”.
How do I know which of the main IP rights is relevant for my company?
You need to decide what is unique about the product or service you offer. The most relevant form of IP is that which most effectively protects your unique selling point.
For example, if your business makes a new type of glucose monitor for sufferers of diabetes and you feel that its most unique feature is delivering more accurate predictions than other monitors on the market, the most relevant form of IP would be a patent to protect the features that enable the predictions to be implemented. You may also wish to protect the brand of the monitor with a trade mark and the look of the monitor with a registered design.
If your business is a bakery that produces bread with a reputation for being excellent, you may wish to protect the name of the bakery as a trade mark. You may also wish to protect your recipe or process with a patent. If the shape or packaging of your product is distinctive, you may also want to explore registered design protection.
Often, more than a single type of IP right is relevant to your business and inevitably one may be more of a priority than another. It’s best to speak to an IP attorney about where to focus your efforts first, particularly if there are cost concerns or your product is yet to enter the market.
What is an IP audit and why should I get one?
If you’re new to intellectual property and aren’t sure where to begin, an IP audit is a great starting point. Alongside identifying and recommending protection for your intellectual property, an IP audit ensures that you can capitalise on opportunities to generate revenue (such as licensing and franchising) and helps to manage internal IP issues (such as employee contracts). Such actions will serve your business well as it grows.
We are approved suppliers of the UK Intellectual Property Office’s IP Audits Plus scheme. Through this scheme, small- to medium-sized businesses can receive financial support towards an IP audit. You can apply for funding through the European Enterprise Network.
Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to your usual contact to find out more about IP Audits Plus.
Read more about the other types of IP
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