IP expert Elliott Davies at Cardiff-based IP specialists Wynne-Jones IP, a sponsor of Venturefest Wales, provides insight into how intellectual property can benefit your business.
What is intellectual property (IP), you might ask?
IP is a term used to describe ‘creations of the mind’ such as inventions, company names, logos, images, literary works, art and music.
What vehicles exist to legally protect IP?
Technology that is novel and inventive can be protected by patents and is called an invention.
A new brand or business name can be protected by filing a registered trade mark.
If you have created a new aesthetically pleasing product, then you could look to protect its appearance by filing a registered design application.
Copyright exists on works of art, writings and music.
To guarantee that you have the correct protection, speak to a specialist IP attorney.
So how do I go about this?
You need to ask yourself two questions:
The first question to ask yourself is, “What IP do I have in my company?”
The second question is, “Can I protect it legally to add value or create profit for my company?”
IP protected legally is known as an ‘IP Right’. Protecting this will require spending money, so why would you do so?
You can charge higher prices than the competition can
A good illustration of this is the pharmaceutical industry. When paracetamol was protected by patents and marketed as Panadol, the makers could charge a premium price for the product because no other competitors could copy and profits were high. Unfortunately, the first patents on the use of paracetamol have long expired and now generic paracetamol is made by many companies and sold widely, and very cheaply.
You can protect and even enhance your market share
Companies that can make products or services unique and protect the IP rights typically capture a bigger market share than those that don’t. Smaller companies do not normally have to go to the expense of lawsuits; being able to publicise that you have IP for a particular IP in your company and sending a legally worded letter to any competitor who is copying you, is often enough to deter companies.
Your IP is an asset and it can have a value on your balance sheet
There is software that is commercially available now to value your IP. The value can be listed on a company balance sheet as an asset, thus increasing the value of your company. This can make your company more attractive to investors. In fact, some investors insist on IP protection being in place before they will invest.
You can get considerable tax savings or rebates on patents from HMRC
Finally, if you are looking to protect an invention by filing for a patent, you can benefit from tax savings. The Patent Box Legislation was introduced in 2013, and enables firms to apply a lower rate of Corporation Tax to profits made from patented products
Do’s and don’ts
Do determine whether you have IP in your company and whether or not you wish to protect it legally.
Don’t choose a new company name or create a brand name or copy another company’s design or technology without first checking whether it has been protected by the relevant IP right.
Once you have your IP rights, make sure you publicise them to ensure no company tries to copy your creation.
Wynne-Jones IP is a firm of Intellectual Property specialists that have been based in Cardiff, Telford and Cheltenham for over fifty years. The firm advises businesses and inventors in a wide range of sectors worldwide on all aspects of patents, trade marks, design rights and copyright.
For further advice from Wynne-Jones IP, follow them on Twitter @IP_Expert.
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If you’re a tech start-up or entrepreneur you’ll know it’s essential to secure seed and early growth funding to get your business idea off the ground. There are lots of options out there from crowdfunders, to banks, to venture capital firms. However it can be difficult to secure that initial investment – especially as many science and technology companies are seen as high risk.
That’s why the Welsh Government launched the Wales Technology Seed Fund in2014. Managed by Finance Wales the £7.5 million fund works with early growth companies based in, or willing to move to, Wales. They’ve recently celebrated investing £3 million across 21 companies – leveraging £3 million in co-investment.
The Entrepreneur Wales Awards recently put start-up’s questions to the fund’s manager – Dr Melanie Goward. Watch what she had to say about getting investment from the fund in the video below.