Many of our clients, when we start discussing Intellectual Property with them, ask…… ’do I really need it’? Or they say… ’surely my business is protected enough already’.
For many businesses, intellectual property protects more than just an idea or a concept – it protects genuine business assets that may be integral to the core services of the business and overall long-term viability. Your business’s IP are property rights that can be owned, assigned and licenced. They protect the owner from others infringing and using their IP. There are three main areas of Intellectual Property; Patents (novel inventions – often scientific or mechanical), Copyright, Design, and Trade Marks.
Trade Marks are the most common area that should be protected by both small and large businesses. Colloquially known as a brand, logo, business name or trading name etc. Trademarks can include words, images or combination of both, sounds, smells and even shapes. It is important to note that registering your company name with Companies House does not provide you with trade mark protection. Unless you register your trade mark with the Intellectual Property Office you are not protected, other than through a process known as passing off. Passing off is difficult to prove and costly; therefore registering your trade mark with the IPO is preferable. As customers learn to associate your mark with your goods and services they may be happy to pay more for a product or service bearing that trade mark. The value of your trade mark grows with you as your business grows. It can also serve as a deterrent from competitors using your Trade Marks/ brand. You have property rights associated with your trade mark which enables you to sell, licence or otherwise. Trade Marks are protected indefinitely upon renewal of your trade mark every 10 years.
If a business does not protect its trade mark and discovers that another trader in the marketplace is using the same or similar mark they may sue you for infringing their trade mark. This can be a costly experience involving compensation, litigation and court costs. Costs will also be associated with rebranding, marketing and loss of business costs. It is therefore important to get your trade mark right before you launch your business, otherwise you may be in for nasty shock.
Hopefully we have not frightened you too much with the above but it is surprising how many businesses are just not aware of how much their business is at risk. We at Bright Solicitors offer free consultations to establish if we can help. Can you afford to risk the consequences of not protecting your business?