Intellectual Property and SMEs

What is Intellectual Property (IP)?

To many, it is simply a somewhat obscure legal concept that can only be properly understood and applied by specially trained practitioners. As a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) owner or manager, you may be asking yourself why you should pay attention to IP, or how could it possibly benefit you and your operation?

Here is how I would respond: IP is everywhere. Trade Marks, Copyright, Patents and Design The products and services used in our day-to-day lives – from the clothes we wear, to the food and drink we consume, to the entertainment we experience, to the technology behind our desktops / laptops / smart phones etc. – are all the result of a chain of innovations and improvements, including changes in designs that make a product look, function and feel the way we know it does today.

There are four types of IP that are registerable in the UK:

1) Patents: Protecting the mechanics i.e. the features, formulae and processes behind inventions i.e. Pharmaceuticals, computer code such as search engine algorithms and fizzy drinks.

2) Trade marks: Protecting symbols such as logos and brand names, distinguishing goods and services.

3) Designs: Protecting the appearance of a product or logo i.e. the way an object looks i.e. its shape and visual appeal.

4) Copyright: Protecting many different types of “works” including music, lyrics and photographs. Copyright is an automatic right which applies when the work is permanently recorded in some form.

Irrespective of your business’s product or service, the chances are that it is regularly using and creating a great deal of IP and if so, I would recommend that you consider the steps required for protecting, managing and enforcing your rights, in order to achieve the best possible commercial results from your IP ownership.

It is equally important to note that if you are using IP belonging to a third party, then you should consider buying or licensing it in order to avoid a dispute that could lead to costly litigation.

In order to assist your understanding of IP, the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) has developed a user-friendly e-learning product called IP Panorama, which explains IP’s relevance and importance in every day language from a business perspective. It is designed both to increase IP awareness and in order to assist SMEs and entrepreneurs to utilize IP in business strategies.  Please see the following link: http://www.wipo.int/sme/en/multimedia/flash/01/#

Gregory Abrams Davidson LLP

If you or your business have any questions relating to Media, Technology, Entertainment or Intellectual Property Law and would like to discuss with a member of our team, please contact us for a free 30 minute consultation on 020 7979 2066. If you prefer, you can contact us by email at jabrams@gadllp.co.uk.