Intellectual Property: Protecting your competitive advantage

For many businesses, intellectual property protects business assets crucial to their brand. Proper protection can often be the deciding factor between the success and failure of a business.

‘Intellectual property’ describes a set of  intangible rights that protect the products of human intelligence. It protects the creative and organisational efforts involved in developing new products, processes, designs and materials.

Intellectual property can be something as small as a logo, or something as big as your business’ identity or best selling product.

Your intellectual property is what differentiates your business in today’s competitive market. If it is not protected and is used without permission, your business will suffer.

Why is intellectual property protection important?

At a time when the internet is flourishing and businesses are taking advantage of free advertising and the ability to reach vast audiences at low costs, intellectual property theft is at its most prolific.

This fact makes intellectual property protection very important.

Here are some intellectual property essentials for you and your business:

Keep your ideas

The key to success is secrets!

So you have a brilliant idea? Keep it quiet.  There will always be someone listening who will take your idea from you and sell it as their own.

Your intellectual property is important from day one so make sure you consider how to best protect your intellectual property, using patents, trademarks, copyright or designs. If you haven’t yet proceeded with intellectual property protection, get other parties to sign a nondisclosure agreement or confidentiality deed in order to keep your intellectual property safe from the use of others.

Protect your competitive advantage

As a business person, you understand that differentiation from your competition is vital for success.

Once you have your point of differentiation, you will have captured part of the market share and you will see a growth in revenue. This is why it is very important to protect any unique products or services that differentiate your business from your competition.

Unfortunately, if your secret is not protected by a patent, trademark or copyright you can lose market share. Losing market share early in your development can cost you time and money.

Don’t assume you will own the intellectual property in commissioned works without a contract

Even if you commissioned the work for your business, in almost all cases copyright in a creative work (i.e. code or a logo you pay a developer to create) is the property of the author.

If you have an independent contractor to do some work for your business, they may own the proprietary rights to the material they create unless it is specified in the service contract otherwise.

You must ensure relevant clauses are in the contract to guarantee you own all the rights you paid for to have created. This is important because ownership of intellectual property adds value to your business.

When purchasing a business, ensure IP is transferred to you

You must ensure the Intellectual Property of the business, such as a trademark, is assigned to you through the relevant assignments agreements. Failure to do so may allow the prior business owner to use intellectual property associated with the business you just purchased for their own end, leaving you without the goodwill you may have sought to rely on.

If you need professional advice about your intellectual property, please don’t hesitate to call Butlers Business and Law on (02)49 7002 or fill an enquiry form on our website. Our solicitors specialise in Intellectual Property law, and we can help you protect your intangible property.