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Protecting your assets

Starting a business? Tempted to put-off protecting Your Intellectual property? Matthew Hives, from One Stop IP, explains why You need to think again!

Intellectual property impacts our lives on a daily basis, countless times even before we have brushed our teeth in the mornings. The products we use, the music we listen to, the websites we visit, are all likely to have been legally protected to maximise the value to their owners and discourage copying or exploitation by others.

According to a recent study of over 130 countries, the UK has become the most entrepreneurial economy in Europe and forth in the world, thanks to innovative products and unique services. By combining strong business acumen with innovation and design, UK entrepreneurs are achieving success in domestic and global markets. The UK business community has contributed to this unfolding success story by creating value from the ideas and services that they have created and manage – this is intellectual property.

Intellectual property (known in short as “IP” or “IPR” for intellectual property Rights) can consist of many different areas, from logos and branding, through to the novelty of the products, services and processes that make a business unique. With the growth of the internet, it is now much easier for people and businesses to copy what you do and make. Companies of all sizes are at risk of having their unique ideas infringed upon, even if they are on the other side of the world, making IP protection even more important than ever in our global economy.

When you have a great idea, there will always be people who will want to duplicate your success and sell your ideas as their own. Depending on individual circumstances, you can gain protection with patents, trademarks, domain names or copyrights – all of which cover different areas of intellectual property law. These can be used to prevent competitors or anyone else from using your ideas for their own profit without your consent. Limited protection for original work is automatic in some cases (copyright) and it’s possible to file for protection yourself with the relevant authorities. However, a qualified patent or trademark lawyer can guide and advise you through what can become a complex process requiring technical expertise and experience to assess the correct course of action and overall cost.

After securing your IP in the jurisdictions that are relevant to your trading areas, what next? Well, it then becomes very important to ensure your rights are maintained correctly and are not infringed in any way by third parties. It’s important to remember that no one else will check to see if your intellectual property has been infringed – so you need to manage this yourself or engage a specialist service provider who can act on your behalf. It may seem initially daunting and time consuming but protecting yourself is well worth the time and effort. It isn’t as difficult as you may think, especially if you choose to work with an IP specialist who will take the trouble to understand your business and innovative ideas, and set out the options and choices available to you.

A recent example of how this can work successfully is with a new company called Dappercap who have designed a helmet for style conscious leisure cyclists, filling a gap in the market for good-looking head protection. Their unique branding, product design and web-based shop front has created a great deal of interest. The potential value gained through years of development and investment has been protected via patents, secured domain names, trademarks and registered designs in UK and European jurisdictions. Following a launch in summer 2015 and the release of new funds, the plan is to seek protection is US and Far East markets, where sales potential and interest in cycling is huge.

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