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What Intellectual Property does my business own and how can it be best protected?

20 May 2021

The North East’s rich industrial history means it can lay claim to a wide range of intellectual property (IP) developments that have had a huge impact around the world.

From famous inventions like Joseph Swan’s lightbulb and Charles Parsons’ turbine engine through to less well-known items, such as the lifesaving water purification powder developed by Proctor & Gamble’s Phil Souter, our region has always been a hotbed of commercial creativity.

The successes of the ever-expanding North East knowledge economy marks the latest phase of this continuing process, but IP is by no means limited to technological wizardry.

Many regional companies may well have developed products, designs, documents and processes of some description that, perhaps unknowingly, fall into this category, and their value can vary enormously.

IP is really an umbrella term for several different rights, including copyright (protecting artistic, musical, dramatic and literary works), design rights (covering the appearance of something, including the shape and configuration), trade marks (logos, names etc), and patents (for inventive yet functional products or processes).

In terms of protecting your IP, some rights can be registered, such as trade marks, patents and registered designs, while other types acquire protection automatically without any need for registration, such as copyright.

The first step to protecting (and making money from!) your IP is to identify what you have, who in fact owns it, and how important it is to the business.

IP 101

Only then can you work out how best to protect the IP, including whether to go for registration where possible or take other steps to preserve it as a potentially very valuable business asset.

We have worked with a wide range of North East firms in carrying out ‘IP Audits’, which usually take the form of detailed conversations about your operations and enable us to examine what IP you may already possess, what you might be creating on a daily basis and what might emerge from future ventures.

Reviewing your existing terms and conditions, any key contracts that may involve the use or license of IP, and the terms of engagement of essential employees and consultants helps to identify what IP you currently own, what you might need to do to properly protect it and the benefits that doing so would bring to your business.

Having all this information to hand ensures you can gain the most appropriate financial returns from your IP and can be properly prepared for continuing to do so from future IP that your business creates.

For further information on Hay & Kilner Law Firm’s fixed-fee IP Audit service, please contact Lucy Gray on 0191 232 8345 or via lucy.gray@hay-kilner.co.uk