When you think of a successful business, the ones that come to mind are almost certainly those that have a strong brand or a strong portfolio of intellectual property rights that have contributed to their success. Whether it’s Apple, Google, or, closer to home, Skyscanner, intellectual property (IP) accounts for a significant portion of their worth.
A crucial asset sought after by investors in many businesses will be intellectual property (IP), whether it be your brand name, technology that you have developed, or the “secret sauce” that distinguishes your company from the competition.
The importance of brand is much greater for internet enterprises. Anyone may create a website for letting and booking short-term accommodations or ordering takeout from a local restaurant, but Airbnb and Deliveroo are successful because they have actively invested in developing their presence and brand recognition in their respective markets. The impact of that brand strength may be observed in the frequency with which people refer to ‘booking an Airbnb’ or ‘ordering a Deliveroo’ for supper, respectively.
What kinds of intellectual property are there?
Unregistered rights occur as a result of the formation of the right. To be registered, a right must first go through a formal registration process and meet certain conditions in order to be accepted. Their registration is overseen by national or transnational registries, such as the Intellectual Property Office in the United Kingdom. Some intellectual property is only protected for a specific amount of time. Other rights can be exercised indefinitely.
The following are the most common types of IP:
Trade marks are used to protect the origins of a product or brand by preventing it from being misidentified. The most frequent type of trademark is a business name or emblem. However, while some rights can be acquired naturally via the development of goodwill, registered trade mark protection provides holders with significantly stronger protection against third parties.
Copyright is a legal term that refers to the protection of an idea’s expression (but not the idea itself). Take, for example, website material and computer programming code, text, and audio from film recordings as examples.
A product’s look is protected by design rights, which are legally protected (for example its shape, features, pattern or designs)
Patents are important because they safeguard inventions. The invention must be novel and capable of being used in an industrial setting.
Rights in databases – They protect specific rights in databases and the information contained in them.
Information that is considered confidential or trade secret
Take control of the intellectual property that your company generates.
When contemplating new ideas, branding, or designs, for example, be certain that everything is documented and that confidentiality agreements are in place with everyone who has knowledge of the concepts under consideration. It is also worthwhile to examine the intellectual property rights of others – an investment in adequate clearance searches should be made to determine whether any existing rights that are identical or similar to the proposed rights exist. Consider the types of inspections that investors will perform on your company before deciding whether or not to invest in it.
Intellectual property (IP) is typically owned by the person who created it. If the person in question is an employee, the typical stance is that the item will be the property of the company in question. However, if you employ a third-party consultant or corporation to develop anything on your behalf, ownership of the intellectual property rights will not pass unless and until a written agreement is in place, and this agreement is in writing.
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Ascertain that everyone participating in the business and the development of intellectual property is either employed under a contract of employment that has explicit IP provisions or that they have entered into a documented assignment of the intellectual property that they create.
Before deciding on a trading name, brand, or logo, make sure you conduct appropriate research on the target markets. If you fail to do so and your brand infringes on the intellectual property rights of a third party, you may be forced to pay for a costly rebranding campaign (and possibly be liable for damages).
When discussing secret or proprietary information with third parties, it is best practise to use a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). However, you should not just rely on the NDA. Communicate only what is absolutely essential, and be certain that you are comfortable sharing your information with that third person.
If your company is developing something that has the potential to be patentable, you should keep it completely confidential and consult with a patent agent to determine whether or not it is patentable.
When employing third-party intellectual property, make sure to secure the necessary licence. Consider what legal rights you will require. What plans do you have for that IP address? What extent is your company’s reliance on it? If it is critical to your company’s operations, you do not want a third party to be able to terminate it at any time.
Finally, keep accurate records of the intellectual property (IP) that you create and intend to utilise. It becomes considerably easier to bring or defend infringement lawsuits as a result of this. It will also provide potential investors with peace of mind while they conduct due diligence on your company’s operations.
Original version of this article appeared in The Scotsman