Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the mind such as ideas, inventions, slogans, logo’s and processes.
IP law includes the copyright, trademark and patent protections for physical and nonphysical property that is the product of original thought.
IP can be a minefield and many business owners, especially small business owners, fall into some common traps that can hamper potential business growth opportunities.
Here are some of the common pitfalls relating to IP and how, as a small business owner, you can avoid them.
1. Publically disclosing your innovation
You might be bursting to tell the world about how you are going to grow your business either through new products or services but don’t. In most countries in the world, disclosing your new product or service publically will mean you will not be able to patent it at all.
2. Failure to assign ownership
It is always best to make formal agreements regarding any IP ownership prior to any further development in order to decide who owns and controls the innovative product or service.
Ownership can even include people you haven’t paid, people you have paid but haven’t signed a formal agreement or people who have otherwise made a valuable contribution to the design.
3. Failure to protect IP in Global Markets
IP rights are territorial which means that whilst your rights may be protected in the UK they are not necessarily protected in a different country.
If when growing your business, you are thinking about selling in a different country, you need to get the correct territorial legal advice and carry out all necessary due diligence before starting on this journey.
Protection of IP encourages investors and others (even customers) to risk investing time and money by ensuring that they will be the primary beneficiaries of profit when the product or service is introduced to the market.
The major issue with IP from a legal standpoint is that more often than not there are multiple possible solutions which makes legal hearings difficult and unpredictable.
The first and major step for any business owner looking to grow in this way is to know the law and understand how it applies to the business activity at hand.
It is imperative that proper legal council is sought and that you are fully aware and briefed on all legal implications.
Small business owners are becoming increasingly dependent on protecting their IP in order to bring their products and services to market. In fact, protecting IP has become more important than ever before.
IP is one of the most valuable assets for small businesses, especially small businesses that would like to grow when it comes to transforming ideas and innovations into real market value.
If the IP is usable and owned by the business, not only will investors be much more interested in investing, it can also increase the overall value of any company when considering an exit strategy.