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World Entrepreneurs’ Day 2021: IP tips and tricks for entrepreneurs

20 August

7 mins

To celebrate World Entrepreneurs’ Day 2021, Mathys & Squire wants to help innovative early-stage businesses better understand intellectual property (IP), its importance and ways to protect IP rights.

Even without having to consider IP, launching and running a business can be a difficult job. Adding IP into the equation can often lead to more confusion, but its importance in protecting inventions and adding value to a business cannot be overlooked, so below we have collated 10 tips and tricks based on our years of experience working with entrepreneurs and SMEs. For more information on a selection of the innovative businesses we work with, visit our case studies page.

1. Do your research before filing for a trade mark

Performing a trade mark register search is essential before filing for new trade mark applications. Carrying out your due diligence can prevent receiving objections from the UKIPO and third parties to your application, by ensuring your trade mark is unique and not already registered.

Read more on this here and here.

2. Registered IP can significantly increase the value of your business

Owning IP discourages others from utilising yours as it gives you the right to take legal action against anyone using your IP assets. Moreover, it makes your business an attractive investment opportunity for investors as they get reassurance of your strong position in the market. Owning the IP can also open multiple doors later down the line, whether that is through licensing it out, franchising or selling.

Read more on this here.

3. Whenever working with business partners, third parties or research organisations, make sure you establish who is in ownership of any IP

When collaborating with others, it is essential to decide on the future ownership of your IP before it even exists, as it is a lot more complex and difficult to reach a decision afterwards. You need to set boundaries as to the ownership of newly created IP, but also to protect any pre-existing IP you owned beforehand.

Read more on this here.

4. The best way to keep your invention confidential is to not disclose it to anyone

Until a patent application has been approved and granted, the only way to keep your ideas and inventions safe is to not disclose any details to anyone. If there is a need to share your idea with someone, make sure you have a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement in place.

Read more on this here.

5. There is potential for SMEs to increase revenue by investing in IP portfolios

According to a recent study conducted by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), companies which own at least one patent, registered design or trade mark generate 55% higher revenue per employee than companies that do not own IP rights (IPRs). The report concluded that owning IPRs is associated with improved economic performance and this relationship is particularly strong for SMEs.

Read more on this here.

6. There are grants available to help cover the cost of an IP audit

The UKIPO offers IP and intangible asset audits through a number of partners including RTC North, Inventya, Newable, Scottish Enterprise, the Welsh Government, and the Enterprise Europe Network. The normal cost is £3,000 ex VAT but SMEs are eligible for a £2,500 ex VAT grant from UK IPO to cover the costs.

Read more on this here.

7. Protect your brand and all the elements within it

There are multiple elements that should be considered when protecting your brand against copying. You can register a logo, name, but also even a slogan as a trade mark. Owning IP rights is the only long-term way to protect your brand from being used by someone else.

Read more on this here.

8. Track your competitors’ IP portfolios

Ownership of IP rights and applications for new assets are available to the public, so tracking your competitors’ activity can be key to anticipating their future business moves. This can help you position your offering to adapt to that or to introduce new products and services to remain competitive.

Read more on this here.

9. Be smart about your IP budget and stagger any payments

Protecting your IP rights is key to long-term success, financial performance, and competitive advantage. However, most businesses need to consider cashflow and budgets when making decisions. Starting off, it is worth prioritising your business goals and to only protect the key IP rights. It is not necessary to do everything at once and by doing so, you may be able to stagger some payments and their consecutive renewals in the upcoming years, which will be easier to fit in your budgets.

Read more on this here.

10. Consider your IP strategy at every step of the product development cycle

Taking an idea to a finished product can be a time-consuming process. Not considering potential IP opportunities along the way can result in serious delays at the end and ultimately, not being able to protect your invention from infringement. Consider consulting an IP attorney at every step of the product development cycle to ensure that any opportunities to protect valuable IP are not lost.

Read more on this here.

For more information, and to see how IP could strengthen your innovative business, get in touch with a member of our team.