5 key steps to protect your intellectual property

Intellectual Property

In this article, we look at five of the key things all business owners should look at.

1. Take stock of all of your intellectual property

First things first, in order to properly manage your intellectual property, you will need to look at what you already have in place. You should establish procedures for reviewing your IP including trademarks, patents, copyrights and designs.

You will also want to think about property related to registered IP, such as domain names. The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has a free health check tool which allows you to determine what IP you own and what still needs to be protected.

2. Check that what you plan to protect is original

If you have property you are yet to register, such as a business name, logo, patent or trademark, you must check that it is original before you attempt to take steps to protect it. You can use patent searches or trademark searches early on in the process to determine whether someone else has protected your idea or design. This can be a complicated process, and you may wish to instruct a professional to assist you.

3. Register your property

Registering intellectual property can take some time, so you will want to begin as early as possible. To register a trademark, the process will take around six months. To register a patent in the UK, it will take two to four years, but it may be possible to have a patent fast-tracked. A specialist solicitor will be able to advise you whether your application might qualify.

4. Check and update your contracts

One of the biggest dangers for intellectual property is actually your own employees, suppliers, designers, and other staff members. It is vital that your employment contracts and contracts for consultancy clearly state that your business is the owner of any intellectual property that arises from work carried out. Similarly, your workers should keep evidence of the development of intellectual property, such as dated drawings and signed copies. This can help should an IP dispute arise.

5. Check for infringements regularly

While properly registering your intellectual property goes a long way to prevent infringement, it is still very common. You should establish processes in your business to check for infringement regularly. This may include simple steps such as using search engines to look for anyone passing off your IP as their own. If you find infringements, you should seek the advice of a specialist intellectual property lawyer.

To discuss this or any other legal matter with Nigel, please call us on 01483 366762, email info@hartbrown.co.uk or start a live chat today.

*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

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Nigel Maud

Partner, Commercial & Corporate, COLP

Nigel read Psychology and Politics in South Africa. He went on to qualify as a solicitor in 1995 and initially practiced as a prosecutor before...

Nigel Maud-Partner -Commercial & Corporate

Partner, Commercial & Corporate, COLP

Nigel Maud

Nigel read Psychology and Politics in South Africa. He went on to qualify as a solicitor in 1995 and initially practiced as a prosecutor before moving into private practice where he specialised in commercial work. He then moved into the business recovery and restructuring department at Pricewaterhouse Coopers broadening his understanding further of the problems and challenges a business faces.

Relocating to England in 1999 Nigel joined Hart Brown in 2002 and became a partner in 2004.

Nigel often received praise from his clients, these are just a few of the comments:

"Very efficient, cost effective service."

"This marks the end of a very long (15 years) and successful relationship with Hart Brown on the liquidation of the company. We thank the partners and staff at Hart Brown for all the advice and wise counsel they have given us over the years."

"You have an excellent team of people who make sure they understand the needs of the client."