Protecting and Commercialising Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property (IP) is a category of property that refers to creations of the mind, which can include inventions, designs, symbols, names and images. Oliver Tidman, an expert in Intellectual Property, explains that it is important to protect your Intellectual Property to help take legal action against anyone who steals or copies it. By protecting your Intellectual Property, you have the opportunity to commercialise it and maximise financial returns.

Protecting your Intellectual Property

There are different types of protection for various types of Intellectual Property. This can include trademarks, designs, copyrights, and patents. It is important to understand the ins and outs of each type of protection, thus, it is recommended that you speak to a solicitor as early as possible.

Below is a quick overview of the different types of Intellectual Property protection.

Type of Protection Intellectual Property covered Time to allow for application
Trademarks Product names, logos, jingles 4 months
Designs The appearance of a product, including its shape, packaging, patterns, decoration 3 weeks
Copyrights Writing and literary works, art, photography, films, TV, music, web content No application required
Patents Inventions and products e.g. machines, medicines Approximately 5 years

Common Intellectual Property issues

As a solicitor who deals with Intellectual Property, Oliver explains that there are many common issues faced by his clients. The most common issues happen during the start-up of businesses, where a lot of money is invested into new intellectual properties, such as websites and marketing tools, which are key to the launch of a new business.

It is quite common for businesses to make poor choices of names and brands. Unfortunately, business owners often approach solicitors too late. More often than not, the business owners are already in a dispute with someone before seeking legal advice, thus, can only resolve the issue at the expense of their intellectual property.

These common mistakes can be quite costly but can be avoided quite easily if business owners would just spend more time thinking carefully about the names and brands appropriate for their business. It is vital to conduct a thorough clearance brand search before picking a new name or branding, as this can be extremely helpful in avoiding any future disputes over intellectual property. Business owners should also consider seeking advice from a solicitor to help facilitate a smooth start to their businesses.

Intellectual Property Legislation within the UK

Although Scotland is a separate jurisdiction from the rest of the UK, many of the substantial intellectual property laws remain the same. In fact, the UK Intellectual Property main office is based in Newport, Wales.

There are, however, some slight procedural differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK, but these are quite minor and are generally quite insignificant.

The impacts of COVID-19 on the Intellectual Property sector

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly impacted all businesses throughout the world, triggering many innovative advancements to adapt to the changing environment.

Within the Intellectual Property sector, the main change has been the transition to online and virtual conference meetings. Business operations did not stop during the pandemic, and this includes the disputes and court hearings over intellectual property. Interestingly, the pandemic has also led to disputes being settled a lot more quickly. This may be mainly due to businesses looking for certainty during these difficult times.

Some other impacts include the pivoting of service delivery models, with several businesses fully embracing the power of technology to continue delivering their services via online platforms.

The impacts of Brexit on the Intellectual Property sector

Brexit has impacted numerous businesses within the UK, with some organisations having to move back to the EU. For those who remained, they have to adhere to new legislation and adopt rights from the UK Intellectual Property main office.

During the transition period, the UK Intellectual Property main office created comparable rights which were similar to their EU counterparts. Effectively, this meant that businesses that owned an EU right (e.g. trademark, design etc.) would receive the equivalent UK right to replace their EU counterpart. Generally, the UK Intellectual Property main office was good at implementing this, which helped businesses transition fairly smoothly through Brexit.

Innovation in the next 5 years

The UK economy has been greatly impacted by both the COVID pandemic and Brexit. However, at the same time, these events have demonstrated the importance of innovation going forward.

To support the recovery of the UK economy, there will be a need for large investment in new technology. There are currently some opportunities (e.g. life science, space stations) where the UK can become a world leader. Thus, it is important that the right investments in innovation are made to continue to support our economy.

The pandemic has also proven the importance of data collection and analysis. Businesses that have made good use of data have realised many benefits, harnessing the power to tailor to their customers and generally becoming more efficient as a business. This will be one of the main focus areas for innovation in the next 5 years as data becomes increasingly more powerful.

Lastly, the introduction of flexible and online working during the lockdowns has challenged the business and service delivery models of many organisations. This will be another key area which will continue to develop, as those who are able to maximise the benefits of flexible and online working will likely rise to the top.

Intellectual Property in bidding

Within the bidding process, it is important to consider your intellectual properties. Oliver, a solicitor who deals with intellectual property, explains that clients often approach him to conduct IP audits. These processes look very closely at businesses and identify all intellectual properties that would need protection. This is vital during the bidding process as it helps ensure the retention of ownership over all relevant intellectual property.

Bidders will also need to consider any reference to intellectual properties and read the buyer documents carefully. Failure to do so can potentially lead to disputes in the future, which can prove to be quite costly. If in doubt, it is always recommended that bidders seek legal advice from a reputable solicitor to guide them through the bidding process.

With thanks to Oliver Tidman, Solicitor at Tidman Legal
Intellectual Property Solicitors | IP Law | Edinburgh | Tidman Legal