Intellectual property (IP) is a great way of enhancing your business. Different types are available to protect different aspects of your business and stop others from copying you without permission. Two main forms of IP are trade marks and patents, but other registrable and informal types, such as designs, copyright and knowhow, are also available.
Trade marks associate a product or service with a supplier and can be used to protect your brand, e.g. via registration for your company name, a product name, and/or your logo. Patents protect your technical ideas and developments. A wide range of developments are patentable, from innovations relating to engineering tools and machines to pesticides and other agrochemicals. New crop germplasm may be protectable via patents and/or plant variety rights. Designs can be used to protect aesthetic aspects of your products.
Reasons to cultivate IP:
- Growing recognition – Trade marks can be invaluable as a tool to ensure that your brand is recognisable.
- Putting down roots – Trade marks can help you maintain your reputation as a business by controlling the use of your trade marks.
- Harvesting revenue – With margins tight for many businesses, it is important to consider all possible revenue streams. Although obtaining a patent may require some investment, it may also open up an untapped revenue stream via licensing, or support a claim to patent box tax relief.
- Protect your turf – You can use a patent to stop other people from competing with you by copying your invention.
- Weed deterrent – Your patent portfolio can be a deterrent to others trying to develop competing technologies in the same field.
- Barter economy – IP can put you in a good position to make better deals, e.g. by cross-licensing to help reduce the amount you pay for access to what you need from third parties.
- Sowing seeds – Development of IP can attract investors or partners which could fund further development or support an exit strategy.
- Fertilising innovation – Being aware of and encouraging possible developments is useful in identifying innovation within your business. Effectively identifying and supporting potential developments means that you are less likely to miss an opportunity.
Overall, IP is an important tool which can be used to protect your business and developments. This may require some up-front work and investment, but it can help boost profits in the long term.
If you want any more information about different types of IP and what types of IP might be relevant to your business, please get in touch any time.
Hermione Thompson, Patent Attorney, J A Kemp firstname.lastname@example.org