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A Business Woman’s Guide to Protecting your Intellectual Property

Many businesses ask what are the most important things they need to know about Intellectual Property so here goes:-

1.      If you have an idea or invention DO NOT TELL ANYONE.

To be protectable by patent a new invention must be novel and inventive.  As soon as you tell someone you have destroyed the novelty and hence made your invention un-patentable.  If you do need to discuss your idea make sure you do it under the cover of a Non-Disclosure or Confidentiality Agreement.  You can download templates off the Internet if you have a tight budget.

2.      Arm yourself with knowledge. 

There are 4 main types of Intellectual Property: Trade Marks, Copyright, Patents and Design Rights.  You can have all 4 types of Intellectual Property in any one business  and they all work together in harmony.  Get to know what each of them protect and use this to your advantage. 

3.      Respect the work of others. 

Others have put great investment in writing or producing their own Intellectual Property.  As a rule of thumb do not copy any photos, text, logos, names or ideas, this includes anything you find on the internet.  Always seek permission first or you could end up paying expensive royalties after the event.

 4.      Clearly show your rights and enforce them. 

You can use the TM symbol to denote an unregistered Trade Mark, this indicates to others that even if you haven’t taken steps to protect it you see this as your property.  If you have registered your mark you can use the ® symbol.  If you have work which qualifies for copyright protection use the © along with your name and date.  

There is no requirement to register copyright in the UK but by keeping good records of when you created material you are building a good foundation should a problem arise later.  A good way of keeping dated records is to send yourself a copy in the post (but don’t open it) it is then independently date verified by the post office!

If a third party copies your work stop them straight away.  The longer you leave the problem unaddressed the less likely you are to get a successful outcome.

5.      Be patient 

It can take time to get your Intellectual Property registered. However, you will usually be protected from the date you file. 

 6.      Use a legal advisor, you will save money and stress in the long run 

Whilst you can register most Intellectual Property yourself, if you hit a problem you will end up paying more if you have to take on a professional to resolve the matter for you.   If you haven’t carried out the right searches and a third party opposes your Application this can be extremely costly.  A Trade Mark or Patent Attorney will not let you file something they think will encounter expensive problems without warning you first.

If you are on a tight budget and cannot afford to use a Trade Mark or Patent Attorney ask for basic advice anyway, all will offer at least 30 mins free and you can ask a lot of questions in that 30 min period!  Alternatively find one on twitter, LinkedIn or facebook and ask them questions, they will like it because it will give them a chance to showcase their skills but at the same time giving you the information you need.

If you want to know more check out our website or get in touch: www.innovateip.co.uk

A massive thanks goes to Karen Hensman of Innovate IP for sharing these ideas – Karen will be hosting an IP Property BWN Seminar later this year – watch the BWN newsletter to learn more. Not signed up?

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  • February 6, 2012