Skip to main content

Do you track your competition’s intellectual property?

24 May

5 mins

What are the benefits of tracking your competitors?

As businesses develop, so do their ideas and offerings. This often leads to an expansion in a business’ IP portfolio. Due to the public disclosure associated with intellectual property (IP) rights, monitoring your competitors’ application filings may provide insight into their future offerings and business direction. You may then use this to inform your own business strategy, for example to launch competing products, or avoid an overcrowded market segment.

Trade mark applications in the UK require the applicant to either be currently using the trade mark, or have a bona fide intention to use it. Therefore, whilst not a fool-proof method, by tracking a competitor’s trade mark filings you may be able to anticipate the launch of a new product or service. The trade mark application also requires a disclosure of all goods and services relating to the use of the mark which may help you to anticipate the scope and direction of the new offering.

Monitoring patent application filings is another way to track a competitor’s IP. Although European and UK patent applications may only be published approximately 18 months after the filing date, this can still provide a valuable insight as it may take several years for a commercialised product to reach market. For example, tracking patents may provide insight into what your competitor is working on and their likely commercial direction, which could inform your own IP filing strategy. Furthermore, tracking applications could identify if one of your in-development products may potentially infringe your competitor’s patent application, if granted. This could offer you the opportunity to design around your competitor’s invention at an early stage.

Similarly, registered design applications can also be tracked.

Further potential benefits for tracking your competitors’ IP may include:

How to track your competitors’ IP

Trade mark and patent applications are disclosed to the public and can be searched free of charge on the relevant intellectual property registers (we have included a few helpful links below). By searching the applicant/owner of the IP and sorting results by date where possible, you can identify your competitors’ recent filings. The EPO also offers a free register alert service which allows you to easily keep track of changes to published EP and Euro-PCT applications. Mathys & Squire also offers professional IP tracking services – get in touch for more information.

Helpful links

The above is not intended to provide legal advice.  If you wish to seek legal advice on any of these issues, please get in touch with a member of our team.

This article was published in Startups Magazine in June 2021.

Written by: Andrew White & Jessie Harrison