Intellectual Property Protection

In this brief article, I’ll be sharing why and how a review of your intellectual property reduces trading risks and enhances your business sustainability.

You’ll learn 4 key points

1 How you will benefit from this simple activity

2 A few quick steps to ensure successful results    

3 Examples of common IP gaps

4 Funding sources to subsidise costs     

IP Protection Audit

Hello my name’s Clive Bonny. I’m a Strategic Advisor with Clean Growth UK supporting early-stage enterprises and high growth businesses.

In this brief article, I’ll be sharing why and how a review of your intellectual property reduces trading risks and enhances your business sustainability.

You’ll learn 4 key points

1 How you will benefit from this simple activity

2 A few quick steps to ensure successful results    

3 Examples of common IP gaps

4 Funding sources to subsidise costs     

 

Let’s kick off with the Benefits. What’s in it for you?

Protecting your intellectual property, your IP, means safeguarding information on your customers, suppliers, staff, operations, security systems, and accounts. It’s not just about patents and trademarks. Your IP represents over half your business assets. That’s more than the cash in your bank account. All this is definitely worth protecting.

An IP audit will first review your valuable data and knowledge assets. Then prioritise strengths weaknesses opportunities and threats. At the end, you have an action plan to mitigate risks and maximise opportunities for sustainable growth.

The UK regulates protection standards for all UK businesses at the Intellectual Property Office. Their customers confirm that IP audits identify competitor threats, grow new markets, safeguard confidential data, help licencing and franchising, remove costly risks of infringements and attract funding to expand.

All this can be done quickly and simply with a little help from a qualified specialist.

So secondly what quick steps ensure successful results?

A good first step is a brief written survey with the help of a confidential advisor who is professionally qualified. IP advisors have ready-made templates in plain English without legal jargon tailored to your size and sector.

For example, new start-ups are asked if they checked the UK IPO trademark database before registering their business name with Companies House. If you use a name already trademarked by a competitor in your sector competitors can claim your profits.

Established businesses are asked if and how they apply non-disclosure agreements and their eligibility for Research and Development grants. Every year millions of pounds for R and D grants are unclaimed by small firms.

A well designed IP survey takes just a few minutes to complete. This forms the basis of your initial discussion with the IP auditor and leads to a holistic analysis of your priorities.

It’s best to include your team in this review as they will then be better informed and engaged to support your IP protection. This reinforces your data protection training and reminds staff how to keep your business information confidential and secure online. That’s a statutory requirement with financial penalties for breaches.

Our third point is to take a look at a few common gaps

Were you aware the Information Commissioners Office website names and fines companies and individuals who fail to follow data protection procedures? Even small firms are being fined over £100,000.  The ICO also issue penalties for failing to register online. It’s less than £50 to register. That’s not worth the risk of a £4000 penalty is it?

I’ll mention other common issues I encounter

Your website developer contract should include content and design assignment of copyright to you. Otherwise, sub-contracted development authors still own the website content even after you paid them. 

Your commercial proposals to new clients should be marked confidential and copyrighted with your name and date. This reduces risks of clients sharing your information with your competitors to get better deals at your expense.

Your IP registrations should be advertised on your website and marketing materials with a warning to deter infringers. This also boosts your supply chain confidence in your due diligence.

And by the way the letters TM do not denote registered trademark. A capital R inside a circle ® does.

I also see too many cyber security lapses. Passwords need changing regularly, system access should use two-factor verification, and mobile devices lost in transit require immediate remote lockdown.   

Fourth and finally let’s look at funding sources to subsidise IP audits.

Public bodies who offer funding include the Intellectual Property Office and Local Authorities. Many councils provide small business grants to subsidise IP protection as part of their business continuity support. Support can also be accessed from research and education bodies such as Clean Growth UK.

In summary

1 An IP audit sustains start-up continuity and accelerates high growth

2 Steps include a brief survey with a qualified advisor and team briefing

3 Your risks are reduced when the audit looks beyond IP registrations

4 Funding and advisory support is available and accessible