Exposing novel technologies and processes to international markets heightens the risk of impersonation and piracy. Learn how to protect your IP.
In a digital world, protecting your intellectual property assets can be an arduous, sometimes impossible, task. So what can you do about guarding what’s rightfully yours?
If you or your business creates something unique – beyond just an idea – it becomes intellectual property. Usually referred to as IP, it’s simply ‘creative work of the mind’ that can be treated as an asset or the physical property of your business.
In 2014 investment by UK companies in ‘intangible’ assets, including R&D, software, and design, hit £133 billion – 9% higher than traditional “tangible” investment such as such as property, machinery and IT. (IPO report)
The rights to own or to use that valuable IP can be legally protected through trade marks, copyright, designs and patents.
So consider what is truly original about your business. Can you use trademarks or patents to protect it? Check out the Intellectual Property Office website for more information.
The risks are many and varied – from copyright piracy and brand impersonation to patent flouting and theft of trade secrets.
The level of IP protection you need will depend on your business plan. What markets are you planning to move into and how fast do you want to grow? Do you have exit plans to consider?
EEN advisers work closely with the Intellectual Property Office and can help you to understand the most common threats to your business and those that might pose the greatest risk.
If you are going to work with partners in overseas markets understand what they and you want from the relationship. Agree who has ownership of what IP and formalise it in a non-disclosure agreement. Try to foresee different eventualities and plan for the worst!
To put in place the kind of IP protection that will be most effective for your business, you will need expert advice. We can help you to identify your IP and, through our global network of business support, introduce you to the right people, including the IPO. Keep an eye out for IP protection topics in business events being run by EEN and others.