Not all business owners are able to readily identify the IP in their business. This means that they do not take appropriate steps to protect or effectively commercialise the IP. It is quite common for businesses to be sold without proper consideration being given to the value of the IP, which is often just handed over as part of the deal.
Typically business owners will need some professional assistance to enable them to identify the IP in their business. Such assistance may be provided by lawyers, trade mark or patent attorneys.
It may be possible to obtain funding for that advice through the Government’s IP Audit initiative, which provides a partially funded scheme in relation to IP audits for business. We can refer you to the scheme to check whether you are eligible.
Confidential information, trade secrets and know-how are all terms used to describe proprietary information or materials used in a business which provide it with a competitive advantage.
The information may be held in documents, within the knowledge and skill of staff or alternatively in materials.
It is essential that the know-how or materials remain confidential to the business in order to retain their value.
As ever, in order to protect know-how, it is first necessary to identify it. Ideally this process starts with documenting it. If the know-how is undocumented it will prove very difficult if not impossible to manage it. It will also be much harder to ensure that staff understand what is (and is not) confidential.
Copyright protects your work and stops others from using it without your permission.
Protection is automatic – it doesn’t need to be registered. There is no register of copyright in the UK.
Copyright arises when you create any of the following:
It is common for the creators of such work to mark it with the copyright symbol (©), their name and the year that the work was created. However, if you don’t use the mark your legal rights will not be affected.
The existence of copyright prevents third parties from:
The words “trade mark” and “brand” are often used interchangeably. Both refer to signs which are used by businesses to differentiate their goods from those of other businesses.
A mark may consist of:
In the information society, databases are simply modern forms of property which, in common with most assets, can be sold or licensed to third parties. A database is often such a valuable asset that businesses are increasingly looking to exploit them in their own right. In practice, the majority of database owners tend to exploit databases by way of licence rather than sale, to take advantage of their inherent characteristics which allow them to be reproduced infinitely and effortlessly without degradation, and to be accessed by many users at once.
If you need advice on identifying your intellectual property, please contact a member of our corporate and commercial team in confidence here or on 02920 829 100 for a free initial call to see how they can help.
To speak to one of our experts today, please contact us on 02920 829 100 or by using our Contact Us form for a free initial chat to see how we can help.