Intellectual property (IP) refers to rights which exist over business assets – it could be a brand, logo, design or product invention.
Failure to protect IP means business may not be protecting their competitive advantage, leaving the door wide open to others who may copy your brand or your product with potentially devastating consequences.
Only by putting protections in place early will a business be able to deal with infringement disputes effectively and efficiently.
Consider a situation where an employee leaves your business, and then sets up a competing business using the same trade mark – without a registered trade mark it will be difficult to prove ownership. But if your business owns a registered trade mark and an employee leaves the business, he or she cannot set up a competing business using the same trade mark. The trade mark stays with the business that owns it.
It’s similar to patents. Generally, if an employee creates an invention during his or her employment, and the business patents it, the patent remains with the business even if the employee leaves the firm.
This is only touching the surface. Legalities around IP can be incredibly complex, but for business the keys to success are simple:
- Seek to protect IP: there are various tools available, including trade marks, patents, copyright, registered designs and plant breeder’s rights – advice in the early stages is critical.
- Put protections in place early: assuming you have sought advice on the appropriate protections, it’s then important to get in early. Investing a little now in IP protection may save you a costly dispute in future.
This year’s World IP Day celebrates women in innovation and creativity. Let us share the experiences of some outstanding female entrepreneurs who have been involved in Hall & Wilcox’s specialist start-up service frank: