Starting a new business is an incredibly exciting time. There’s a lot to prepare in order to launch successfully. Something that’s often overlooked is intellectual property, whether that’s researching it, registering it or protecting it. At Sonder IP, we specialise in helping businesses protect the things that matter. We’ve brought together some simple advice to make sure your IP is protected so your business can flourish in your market.
What should I protect?
There are four main types of intellectual property you can protect; trademarks, registered designs, copyright and patents.
Trademarks must have some distinctive character; they must be sufficiently different from existing trademarks in the same sector to avoid any confusion for your consumers. It’s important to remember that trademarks require renewal after ten years.
Registered designs must be different to anything that already exists in the public domain. When you protect a registered design, you can protect 3D physical shapes and configurations in addition to 2D designs, patterns and decorations. Don’t get caught in the trap of unveiling a design to the public before registering your IP – you may lose your right to protection which would cost your business.
Copyright protection only exists when a piece of work exists physically and has been created independently. For example, a literary work must be physically written down. You cannot protect an idea, you’ll need physical evidence. It doesn’t have to be visually appealing so can therefore apply to block text or building designs for example.
Patents must be unique compared to other inventions in the public domain. You’ll need the cover of a NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) when discussing the invention prior to doing your application otherwise your application could suffer. Your invention need not be be visually pleasing but must offer some technical value. Crucially, your invention should not be a modification of something that already exists.
Why should I protect it?
There are several benefits to protecting your intellectual property. The most obvious ones being saving your business time and money in rebranding. Secondly, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that your brand is protected for the future. If you or your business find yourself in an IP infringement, the consequences can vary hugely. Don’t take the risk!
Make sure you carry out your own research and due diligence. If you’re unsure whether the entity you’re hoping for is available, it’s always advisable to seek the help of a professional. You’d be surprised at how easy the process is.
When starting the process of protecting your IP, there are some steps you can take yourself. Firstly, consider the timing. The earlier you can carry out your research, the better. You don’t want to be in a position of launching your brand and only to find out that you’re actually in an IP infringement.
Check domains, research your particular market, check the Intellectual Property Office Register. After that, it’s time to seek the advice of a professional. At Sonder IP, we work with a range of businesses, big or small to protect their valuable property.