How does intellectual property impact on you and your clients?
Understanding intellectual property (IP) and having conversations with clients about it will add value to your relationship with those clients.
Every business will own or use intellectual property on a daily basis. Does your practice have an IP strategy? What about your clients? Should you protect your business name with a trade mark, who owns your business logo, your web site and what about the documents you produce for your clients, who owns the IP in those?
There are four main types of IP:
patents – protects new inventions: how they work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made
designs – protects the overall look of a product including the colour, shape, texture and material
trade marks – protects brands, such as a business name, and can consist of a word, phrase, picture or a combination of all these
copyright - protects written, dramatic, musical and artistic works including photos, recordings, web sites, software and databases
So to answer a few questions, with copyright the creator owns, unless there is a written assignment in place. This means that if you have a website, a logo, photos on your website or text written by third parties they may own the copyright.
Is it worth your client reporting on their IP? Understanding intellectual property may help investors, lenders and the business itself identify and leverage income from its IP. The value and ownership of IP can have a major impact on your business and your clients' businesses - in particular if there is an M&A or business sale.
A Ltd company name may potentially infringe another party's trade mark so efforts should be made to do a trade mark search in addition to a Companies House search. These can be conducted free of charge of the IPO website but note that trade mark infringement can potentially impact through sound alike, look alikes etc.
Where is sensitive information kept, is the password ‘password 123’? Who has access to this information? Can junior members of staff have unnecessary access to highly confidential information?
So what’s it worth?
Business are not making the most of their ideas and innovations. They can do this by identifying and putting a value on their intellectual property. The IPO has recently published a report called The Hidden Value which looked to understand why companies do not consider the hidden financial value of their intangible assets on a more routine basis.
The IPO website has lots of information and is worth a look. From the home page you can access a section entitled IP for Business. Within the section there are case studies, event listings and lots more including two free online tools. IP Equip is a free online training tool. It takes just over an hour to complete, can be done in 15 minute sections and can build your knowledge of IP.
There is also the IP Health Check tool which is a basic IP audit and covers a range of IP areas including copyright, trade marks, licensing and lots more.
David Hopkins – business engagement manager, Intellectual Property Office
Find out more about the four main areas of intellectual property and build your understanding of the free online tools available from the IPO by watching our free webinar on demand - register here.
Business intermediaries breakfast
If you are based in north west England, the IPO is holding a free event on 18 April in Preston which will help local businesses to grow through intellectual property, international trade and other funded support. This event is aimed at bank staff, bookkeepers, accountants, business advisers and those who play a role in helping businesses succeed. You will learn how intellectual property (IP) impacts on every business and the free tools available to help understand the subject – direct from the Intellectual Property Office.