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For many businesses, intellectual property protects more than just an idea or a concept – it protects genuine business assets that may be integral to the core services of the business and overall long-term viability.
Intellectual property can consist of many different areas, from logos and corporate identity through to products, services and processes that differentiate your business offering. It’s when these ideas are used without permission that an organisation can suffer. Almost all businesses have undoubtedly benefited from the internet, where products, services and marketing communications can reach vast audiences at relatively low costs - but this has also increased the chances of intellectual property theft. Companies of all sizes are at risk of having their unique ideas, products or services infringed upon, even if they are on the other side of the world, making intellectual property protection more important than ever.
When you have a great idea for a product or service, there will always be people who will want to duplicate your success and sell your ideas as their own. Depending on individual circumstances, you can use patents, trademarks or copyrights – all of which cover different areas of intellectual property. These can be used to prevent competitors or anyone else from using your ideas for their own profit without your consent. Read more about the forms of IP. IP protection applies to businesses of all sizes; even huge corporations have had their ideas infringed upon and have made multi-million pound lawsuits; just look at the on-going disputes between Apple and Samsung over their smartphones.
If you are a small business, it’s very important to protect any unique products or services that you own as competitors can use your success to take away market share, resulting in slow growth or loss of revenue. Losing market share early on in a business’s development can be devastating and time consuming if trying to chase up the guilty party without any legal protection. It’s important to remember that no one else will check to see if your intellectual property has been infringed; it’s your responsibility to ensure that no one else is using your assets.
It may seem initially daunting or time consuming, but protecting your IP is well worth the time and effort and isn’t as difficult as you may think. Whilst you cannot protect an idea itself, can protect the means by which you put the idea into operation and this is what you would protect using Intellectual Property (IP).
For copyright, there is no actual registration procedure to follow as protection is free and automatic. Although copyright does not actually protect an idea itself, it can protect the way the idea has been represented - for example brochures, presentations, websites, flyers etc.
If you want to apply for a patent, registered design or trade mark this can be done through the UK intellectual property office, either on your own or if you wish to apply for a patent, together with a patent solicitor. If you want to know more about all areas of intellectual property, the Business & IP Centre has a number of business events and services that can help you find out which areas of your business you need to protect, and how to go about it.