Starting a Business? Don't forget IP
13 July 2012, Robert McLean
All successful businesses start with an idea. And successful businesses will keep generating new ideas. Good ideas, combined with judgement, initiative and, most importantly, perseverance, are what makes a business thrive.
All businesses face risks. It's risky to start your own business, or expand your current business, but there is a world of difference between risks that are ignored and calculated risks.
No business would want to give its good ideas away for free for others to use, especially considering the time, money and effort that must be devoted in establishing a market for those ideas, be they for new products or new services. However, such risks are too often ignored.
Ideas are intellectual property (IP), that is, they are property in the same way as physical, tangible assets are property, and can be owned by an individual or by a company. However this ownership does need to be defined and in most cases registered so that others know what it is they cannot do without infringing your rights.
Intellectual property covers a wide range of business assets, including patents, trade marks, design rights and copyright. Intellectual property can be a very valuable asset; and there are businesses, such as software companies, whose sole purpose is to develop and exploit intellectual property. Some intellectual property, such as methods of doing business, cannot be protected in the UK or Europe, even though the idea may be new. In some cases, intellectual property that cannot be protected by registration can still be protected as a trade secret with appropriate secrecy agreements. However, all businesses will have at least some intellectual property, for example a business name or brand, which may be protected by registration and this will give greater control and ownership over that intellectual property.
In addition to creating intellectual property, businesses sometimes need to make use of other people's intellectual property, for example under licence, but should always take care not to infringe such intellectual property.
If you are thinking of starting a business, don’t forget to protect your intellectual property and takes steps to minimise the risk of infringing other people’s rights. The brand name or logos for your goods or services, the designs you create, the processes and products you invent, may all be capable of being protected to give you a commercial edge in your business area and minimise the risk of competitors taking a free ride with your ideas.
Protecting intellectual property is essential for any business but especially a new one, whose intellectual property may be its main asset. No matter what type of business you have, experienced Patent Attorneys and Trade Mark Attorneys can advise on how best to protect valuable inventions, designs and trade marks in the UK, Europe and throughout the world.