The Importance of IP to UK Manufacturing

There is no denying that the manufacturing industry in the UK is facing some of the toughest challenges of recent times. We understand the concerns and needs of our clients in this industry – whether smaller companies or larger multinationals, the issues that they encounter are, by and large, much the same.

Over the last 40 years or so, the rise of formal intellectual property rights protection mechanisms (IPRs) has increased worldwide across all sectors including manufacturing. The industry lends itself to competition from copycat companies who mass produce and sell counterfeit goods at discounted prices with lower margins to consumers looking for the best deal. Often seen as a victimless crime, counterfeiting is a growing problem in the industry with knock on effects ranging from profit loss to unemployment. Recent studies have shown that whilst companies understand the importance of protecting their IP, they still often seek to cut corners due to the lack of fully understanding what is available to them.

The cost and time implications of setting up IPR on a global scale are often deterrents to company bosses; however in the long term, when looking at the bigger picture, having all mechanisms in place can prove to be a significant cost and time-saving exercise when facing litigation. It is true that to register IP protection in different countries can be time consuming and inevitably lead to a duplication of effort, however, there are certain routes that can aid this. For example, registering a patent application with the Patent Cooperation Society (PCT) will allow that patent to obtain a single search report; or using the Madrid System for international trademark registration will cover your trademarks in multiple jurisdictions worldwide.

Though manufacturing has become an increasingly small share of the UK economy overall, this does not mean that the firms themselves have necessarily shrunk, but rather that they are taking advantage of the global manufacturing landscape. Much of the manufacturing ‘floor-work’ has been outsourced to developing countries, where costs can be lowered, but the headquarters still remain in the UK. There are certain sectors of the industry that tend to remain, however, including for the most part technological related ones – where there is a greater need to be closer to R&D laboratories than say fashion, where R&D tax credits can be taken advantage of, and where there is a need to be closer to the consumer and other firms for collaboration.

Our dedicated manufacturing sector group, understand the global need of our clients in the industry and we pride ourselves in offering our clients the very best in IP protection on a worldwide scale from the start of their business. We are also adept to helping clients who find themselves in a situation where there has been a breach and infringement to their IP. Our dedicated technical teams boast extensive mechanical and engineering litigation and prosecution expertise we are available to advise on all aspects of IP related issues that run the full length of the business or organisation’s life cycle.

Spotlight - UK Manufacturing