IP is not just for international corporations. Here's why
Disclaimer: This FAQ should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only. You are urged to consult your own solicitor on any specific legal questions you may have.
To get in touch with our team for intellectual property support click here.
A lot of business owners think that protecting their intellectual property is just something for big companies and is not worth the time or money. In reality, intellectual property (IP) is an important legal component for any business, no matter how big or small they are.
Many know that there are tangible assets like furniture, buildings, and cars that have obvious value. However, many people don't think about the importance and value of intellectual property in their business.
Whilst it is more obvious how intellectual property gives companies like Apple a competitive edge - it can do the same for your business too!
In this blog post, we'll be discussing why it's important to protect your intellectual property and how it can make your business more money.
What is intellectual property?
"Intangible assets" is a term that refers to any creation of the mind. "Intellectual property" refers to any intangible asset that can be protected through intellectual property law.
This can include things such as brands, designs, inventions, and a whole range of types of creative work.
Whether it is unique products or services, methods, research, websites, client databases (or anything else really) - intellectual property plays a big part in the value of modern businesses and needs to be protected.
How do I protect my intellectual property?
The main way to protect intellectual property is through recognised rights such as trade marks, patents, and copyrights.
Trade marks provide legal protection for logos, words, slogans, and other distinctive marks that identify goods as coming from one particular source.
Patents grant inventors exclusive rights to their inventions typically for up to 20 years after the application is submitted.
Copyrights are unregistered rights that allow people or businesses to profit from creative work from the point where they are created.
Crucially, knowledge and application of intellectual property law helps businesses protect what makes them special and also make money from their big ideas.
More detail on each of these principle rights and how they help businesses make money follows in the next few sections.
What are trade marks?
Trade marks are used to protect signs such as words, logos, shapes, sounds, and more that identify one's company to the public. These signs are typically affixed to a business' goods or services to help them stand out of the crowd.
For example, Coca-Cola's logo is very distinctive and identifies them in stores worldwide. The brand help people trust that what is in the bottle is what they expect in terms of quality and origin - as no one else is allowed to use the same mark legally.
Trade marks don't just apply to big companies like Coca-Cola though they can be for any business and for any product.
Registering a trade mark with legal resources can make it easier to establish rights over key brands people look for. This keeps branded goods or services identifiable while preventing other businesses from using their name or symbols on a similar offering.
Businesses make money from registered trade marks by establishing and growing brands that other businesses cannot look like - attracting customers back again and again.
They can also make more money from licensing or franchising these brands to third parties (like McDonald's or Costa Coffee).
Trade marks are some of the most valuable rights a business holds. If renewed they last in perpetuity and can be secured for relatively little cost.
To secure a trade mark for your business, get in touch with our team by leaving an enquiry here.
What are copyrights?
Copyrights are a type of automatic right that protects creative works. This can include things such as literary works (writing, and even website), artistic works (painting photography), music, video and more.
In essence, once a new creative work is made it is automatically protected by copyright - which grants the creator a set of moral and financial rights. The technical details of these are explored more fully in our specialised blogs on the subject.
Despite this, moral rights determine that an author has a right to be associated with their work as an author (this cannot be sold). Financial rights can be sold, and entitle the creator to gain economic benefit from their work through sale or licensing for a royalty
Businesses make money from copyrights by asserting their authorship and financial rights over creative works that their customers and clients enjoy. Whether it's original content on their marketing channels, or parts of their customer journey (or indeed, for creative businesses, the products themselves!)
Should others use people's creative works without permission, businesses can seek legal recourse through a copyright infringement claim.
What are patents?
A patent is an exclusive right granted by law to an inventor of something that has not been made public for their invention.
Patent rights are typically granted for 20 years from when they are successfully registered.
The granting of patents can help small businesses because they keep larger corporations from trying to infringe on their patents, since if there was no patent then the lareger business might be able to copy another's invention without penalty.
In this way patents are considered "hard IP", and if successfully registered can be incredibly valuable to innovation-led businesses.
Businesses make money through patents as they are monopoly rights that grant exclusive use of the invention for a limited time.
This gives a business an incredible competitive advantage in the marketplace, providing a monopoly of use for the invention, and the ability to license out their invention to others in their space.
Whilst we do not register patents ourselves, we do have patent attorney contacts with who we can put you in contact.
We are able to help businesses who need support around patent litigation. Get in touch by leaving our team an enquiry here.
Get started protecting IP and profiting today
While it may seem that only large corporations would need to worry about their intellectual property, smaller companies and startups out there also have something to lose if they don't do anything to protect themselves.
This is why many lawyers provide legal counsel and create contracts for small businesses--to help them avoid any potentially costly issues down the line.
Above are just a few examples of some of the main rights - but there are a host more which protect all sorts of other things, such as designs and business secrets.
Most importantly, every single business, no matter how big or small, has big ideas that can be protected as IP.
What's more they can make more money in their marketplace as a result of taking a proactive approach in protecting and growing their big ideas.
So, what's holding you back? Get in touch with our team today to learn how you can turn your big ideas into a big bottom line.