Andrew Reith from the Intellectual Property Office shared his top tips and key facts on how to protect your business’ intellectual property rights, what they are and why they are important. Andrew explained all you need to know in order to; identify your intellectual capital, protect your ideas and avoid infringing other companies’ IP.
What is IP?
- Intellectual Property is a banner name for a number of rights
- Trade Marks – a sign which can be represented graphically and which can be used to differentiate goods or services
- Registered Designs – a specific shape or configuration for 3D objects, or a specific pattern or ornamentation for 2D products
- Patent – a 20 year protection for a new invention
- Copyright – automatic recognition of ownership for a range of works including literary works, technical reports, drafted plans, software and artworks
- All businesses have IP – it is just a matter of identifying and valuing yours
- IP is hugely important Each year £13bn is spent on protecting Intellectual Property in the UK and this ‘brand value’ is increasing year on year
- Don’t underestimate the value of your IP. Reggae Reggae Sauce which started off with a £50,000 investment on Dragon’s Den is now worth £35m!
Getting Started with Trademarks
- Run a search at www.gov.uk/ipo at the start of your brand development to make sure you’re not infringing any existing IP rights
- ‘TM’ = Totally Meaningless’. The R in a circle is the only enforceable marque associated with Trademarks in the UK and EU
- A Registered Design only relates to shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation, not function
- A patent must be brand new on the day it is applied. Don’t publish it before you speak to the IPO!
- The technical description is vital – use a patent attorney to get it right
- Only 6% of private patent applications are granted, and 70 – 80% of those don’t get the protection they really wanted
Claiming and Checking Copyright
- Copyright is always free, automatic and international but it’s important to have an independent record of the author and date of creation to prove this
- Consider sending a hard copy of a work by recorded delivery to provide independent proof of date and authorship
- The © sign sends a clear message that you’re aware of your copyright, but using it doesn’t add any further protection in itself
- Don’t reproduce items from or on the internet unless you’re sure you’re safe, it can be very expensive if someone finds out
The Bass beer red triangle is registered Trade Mark No 1, from 1876.
Theoretically you could Trademark a smell but it’s tricky as it’s almost impossible to define. Historically only two smells have ever been trademarked; rose scented Dunlop tyres and the strong smell of bitter beer applied to flight darts.
About the events
Cranfield University Technology Park’s free business seminars are designed to suit the needs of growing businesses in the Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire, with topics ranging from finance and business development to apprenticeship programmes.
The events which include a networking breakfast are hosted in the Cranfield Innovation Centre offices’ conferencing suite and are open to all.
The events are delivered in partnership with Cranfield University, South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) and Central Bedfordshire Council.