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Make your IP work for you

Sarah G Staines LLM, Consultant Solicitor for Breeze & Wyles Solicitors LLP, shares the insight she provided at a recent Santander Breakthrough Masterclass on Intellectual Property.

All businesses have Intellectual Property, but most don’t realise its value until it is too late. Identifying IP and learning how to protect it can be one of the most crucial things you do for your business.

Where to start?

IP can be anything; from trademarks and logos, to confidential information and know-how. Identifying what makes a business successful compared to its rivals is a really good place to start. If it’s a specific element of the production technique, then the business owner could consider a patent to protect it. If the business wants to develop or has become a trusted name, trademarking would be worth considering.

Before embarking on growth or exporting plans, it’s a good idea to carry out an internal audit in order to identify the existing IP of the business, and take steps to protecting it.

Questions worth considering:

  • What makes my business successful compared to my rivals?
  • Is there an industry standard for IP ownership? What do our rivals do?
  • Have we checked whether there are any issues with the word/marks/signs we use as trademarks in the countries we want to expand into?
  • Do we use strap lines, service or product names? Are they registered?
  • Do we have registered trademarks? Are they in date?
  • If we make products, do we need to consider patents?
  • Have we checked the local requirements for patents in the countries we anticipate selling our products in the next five to 10 years?
  • Do we own software or have we had software created for us?

If you look after your IP, it can look after your business for some time to come!

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