Tech City UK Blog

This is the first in our series of informative pieces on Intellectual Property to help startups who may be confused about what IP means for their business. Insight courtesy of Louise Allford, of the IP Office.

Read this edition? Check out:
IP Series #2: Patent Pending
IP Series #3: Do I Own My Website?
IP Series #4: Everyone Owns IP. What Do You Own?

We all know that when running a business, there are a whole host of procedures and requirements that you need to remember and adhere to.

Often, thinking about how to protect your IP assets is the last thing on your mind. But did you know that IP is one of the most valuable assets your business will own?

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Learn from your mistakes

I’ve heard businesses say that venturing into the realms of IP for the first time can be daunting. But the most important thing to remember is you’re not alone. Many hundreds of thousands of businesses have gone through this process before you. They’ve encountered every imaginable problem, raised every conceivable question and fallen at every hurdle.

So why not take their experiences on board and learn from their mistakes? After hearing so many IP horror stories, I’ve pulled together some IP dos and don’ts to help you avoid the same pitfalls.

Do:

  • Think about IP from day one – research your ideas thoroughly before proceeding
  • Consult an IP attorney/professional every step of the way
  • Register your brand as a trade mark
  • Ensure employee contracts state that IP created is owned by the company
  • Put agreements in place with third parties to establish the ownership of any IP created
  • Keep new ideas out of the public domain and ensure all employees know the importance of confidentialityTreatConfidentialityLightly

Don’t:

  • Assume IP isn’t relevant to you – every business owns or uses some form of IP no matter the industry or area that they trade in
  • Try to trade off the back of other people’s trade marks as this could result in costly legal proceedings
  • Copy or use the work of others without gaining the required permissions or licences
  • Wait until your business is successful before registering your IP as it may be too late
  • Think a behaviour is legal just because ‘it’s what others do’
  • Mistake the use of something online as proof of ownership

Read this edition? Check out:
IP Series #2: Patent Pending
IP Series #3: Do I Own My Website?
IP Series #4: Everyone Owns IP. What Do You Own?