Business owners face problems every day – supply shortages, customer complaints and rising costs of labour to name just three. But how often do you think about your intellectual property as a potential problem?
For business owners, intellectual property covers everything from the everyday, such as your brand and products, to those behind the-scenes things like customer lists and processes.
We all hope that the branding, products and ideas that belong to us stay with us – but what happens if they come under threat?
Steven Murray, Partner in the Dispute Resolution team at Harrison Clark Rickerbys Cheltenham office, shares tips for protecting your IP.
Copyright and trademark infringements from outside your business, along with disputes between directors and shareholders, can all add to the possibility of a challenge to your intellectual property.
Disagreements over who owns an idea or invention can lead to costly court cases and take up your valuable time. If you find your business – be it B2B, B2C, or as a sole trader – is facing an IP infringement, having a strong team of lawyers behind you, like HCR’s intellectual property team, can be the difference between a case going well and going badly.
From IP protection and enforcement to portfolio management and collaboration agreements, HCR’s team will provide a holistic approach to protecting your IP. We’ll work alongside you to identify and maximise opportunities while minimising risk.
Regardless of your industry, we want to help you protect what’s yours. We’ve worked with a diverse range of authors, tech start-ups, inventors, directors and shareholders in IP disputes.
Our breadth of experience in this area makes us a go-to fi rm for a range of businesses, particularly IT providers and entrepreneurial start-ups.
Here are our top three IP tips:
1. Know what IP you own and what IP you use. HCR can assist with an audit of your business’ IP and grants of up to £2,000 are available toward the cost of an IP Audit from the Intellectual Property Office. Knowing what you have, and use, means you can better protect it and ensure you have the correct permissions in place to avoid someone threatening you with infringement proceedings.
2. If it is worth stealing, it’s worth registering! Many businesses overlook their IP until they find someone using it who shouldn’t. Ask yourself if your business will cope with a competitor using your IP. If the answer is no, then seek to register it or otherwise protect it. It is far easier to enforce registered IP rights than unregistered ones. Above all, you add value to your business by having registered IP assets.
3. Be proportionate in your reaction to infringement. Acting in haste can lead to difficulties if you threaten infringement proceedings without justification. It may be an error that led to the use of your IP, which can be quickly and amicably resolved. An aggressive approach is not always productive. There is the potential of creating a new business relationship, generating revenue for your business, if the other party takes a licence to use your IP. However, where the impact is severely detrimental to your business, swift and decisive action can avoid expensive and lengthy court proceedings; do not let it carry on for too long. Should you discover someone has used your IP without permission, you should contact a legal professional to establish what steps you can take.
To find out more, please contact Steven Murray, Partner in the Dispute Resolution team on 07921 498 467 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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