Intellectual Property Solicitors – Intellectual property is a valuable asset that can have a significant impact on the profitability of your business. An intellectual property solicitor understands the true value of IP and will help you to maximise that value and protect your IP now and as your business grows. They will also help you avoid inadvertently using a third party’s IP and defend any allegations of infringement made against you.
What is Intellectual Property?
Ideas are the cornerstone of any business.
An idea cannot be legally protected but will often give rise to intellectual property, which can.
Examples of intellectual property include:
- Your brand name
- Your logo
- The design or ‘look’ of your products
Whilst intangible, intellectual property is one of your business’s most valuable assets, accounting for as much as 80% of some businesses’ value.
Businesses with well managed, properly protected IP portfolios are estimated to be worth twice as much as comparable businesses without them.
What are the Different Types of Intellectual Property?
Broadly speaking, intellectual property rights fall into four categories –
A Trademark operates as a ‘badge of origin’. In a world where consumer choice is endless, a trademark enables your goods to be identified and distinguished from those of your competitors.
Copyright protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. This includes novels, music and films as well as software, customer databases and employee manuals.
Design rights protect the overall appearance of the whole or part of a product; its shape and configuration.
The term ‘Image Rights UK’ refers to an individual’s right to control how their persona – their physical appearance, voice, signature and other distinguishing features – is used in the UK. For celebrities, endorsement and sponsorship deals are hugely lucrative, with many earning more from licensing their image than their ‘day jobs’.
A patent protects inventions, methods and processes. Patents protect functionality as opposed to aesthetics.
Each intellectual property right protects specific assets. Trademarks, for example, are crucial for protecting your brand name and logo, whereas a patent gives an exclusive right over an original invention. The rights are not mutually exclusive and are frequently used in tandem to protect the same piece of intellectual property – but they operate as standalone rights, offer different levels of protection and are governed by different laws.
How do you Protect Intellectual Property?
Some intellectual property rights need to be registered; some arise automatically. Understanding which rights your business owns and ensuring they are properly safeguarded is essential.
Trademarks, patents and some types of design need to be registered. Registrations cost money and must be maintained but give their owner a monopoly over the asset for as long as registration subsists. This enables you to prevent third parties from using them even if they did not copy your work. Registered rights are also easier to commercialise (e.g. by assignment or license) and will strengthen your position in the context of any dispute.
By contrast, copyright and some design rights arise automatically. Whilst you do not need to take action in order to benefit, you should ensure your rights are properly identified and managed to maximise their commercial potential and prevent infringement. Unregistered rights can be harder to establish and safeguard but offer useful protection for any material you cannot register or choose not to. If you operate in a fast-moving industry, it may be impractical to wait the 2-3 months it can take to obtain design registration and you might instead seek to rely on unregistered design rights.
What do Intellectual Property Solicitors do?
Intellectual property is a niche area of law. It is also fast-moving, with long established legal principles being continuously adapted to keep up with technological advances. An intellectual property solicitor will help you:-
- navigate the complex, ever changing legal landscape and get the most out of your IP
- identify the existing assets of your business which constitute intellectual property and advise on the relevant rights and corresponding protection
- work with you to develop new intellectual property, clearing it against existing material and ensuring your creativity is capable of protection
- safeguard and maintain your intellectual property portfolio and help you to maximise its commercial value
- when things go wrong an intellectual property solicitor will pursue third parties who unlawfully use your intellectual property, seeking damages, an injunction to prevent further infringement and any other remedies available in the circumstances
- they will also defend you in the event that you are accused of infringement.
Intellectual Property Solicitors Near Me