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Managing your Intellectual Property

Generally speaking, what steps can you take?

Most trading businesses will have at least some IP that they should consider taking reasonable steps to protect. However, IP protection is not a one off process and a business looking to maximise the value of its IP portfolio should ensure that it is actively managed and kept under constant review. Generally speaking this will involve:

  • maintaining a record of what IP is owned by the business
  • recording what IP is licensed by or to the business
  • considering the registration of IP rights where possible
  • reviewing commercial contracts that contain provisions relating to IP
  • regularly updating its IP policies and procedures

Depending on the type of IP that you are looking to protect, it may be possible to register your IP with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Registration of IP is possible in relation to a variety of IP including trade marks, trade names, design rights and also patents.

We regulatory work with trade mark attorneys in relation to foreign trade mark registrations and also patent attorneys.

In addition to formally registering your IP, we can also help protect your IP commercially by reviewing any relevant commercial agreements such as:

  • Your standard terms of business
  • Confidentiality agreements/NDAs
  • Agreements with designers, copywriters, website designers and software writers
  • Service level agreements
  • Distribution and agency agreements
  • Employment and consultancy agreements
  • Collaboration and joint venture agreements
  • Franchise agreements

What potential threats exist to your IP?

A thorough IP audit undertaken by an IP professional will enable you to identify potential threats to your IP by third parties.

  • Commercial contracts

By reviewing commercial contracts with third parties you will hopefully be able to eliminate or at least minimise the risk to your IP by ensuring that the contract includes appropriate protective IP clauses.

  • Employees

Employers should also ensure that their contracts of employment contain appropriate clauses to protect their IP rights. An employee IP policy will reinforce a businesses’ IP rights.

What options exist for commercial exploitation of your IP?

By first identifying your IP, you will have a much better understanding about the commercial opportunities open to you in relation to IP exploitation, whether by licensing, joint ventures, sale or otherwise.

There are a number of ways in which you can commercialise your IP and in relation to which we can assist you. They include:

  • licencing
  • franchising
  • joint ventures and collaborations
  • sale and assignment
  • distribution and agency contracts

Can all IP be registered?

Not all IP is capable of registration e.g. copyright. However, some IP is, for example trade marks.

Is there an alternative to registration?

Also, whilst some businesses will take all available steps to protect their IP, such as patents, not all businesses do so. The registration of patents can be a time consuming and expensive exercise and some businesses prefer instead to concentrate on being “first to market”, as opposed to securing their position legally by registering all available patents.

Ultimately, it’s the choice of the business owner as to what steps they wish to take to protect their IP. However, it’s worth at least considering taking reasonable steps to protect your IP, rather than leaving it until it’s too late.

What can you do if someone infringes your brand?

The steps open to you will depend on what type of IP or branding you think is being infringed by someone else, and whether your IP is registered or not.  Our commercial disputes experts team will be able to advise you on the options open to you.

If you need any advice on how to manage 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.

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