What is Intellectual Property?

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hat is Intellectual Property?

The importance of IP is often underestimated, perhaps due to its intangible nature – IP includes patents, trade marks, copyright and designs. All businesses own IP in some form or other. Regardless of what you bring to the marketplace, make sure your business is protected at the earliest stage. Not doing so (or using someone else’s IP) could have serious financial consequences for your business.

Why is Intellectual Property Important?

Failing to realise the value and potential of your IP or using, even inadvertently, someone else’s IP could have potentially serious consequences. You could be missing out on potential revenue through licensing. IP rights are assets, and understanding how to protect and commercially exploit them can be a powerful business tool. Avoiding using others’ IP rights (without permission) is equally as important.

There are 4 main reasons why IP is an important business tool:

1. Protection

Once your IP is registered and protected in the country/ies in which you operate, competitors and other companies will not be able to use your logo, ideas or IP without your permission. If anyone exploits your IP rights, you will be protected by law, and may be entitled to compensation/damages.

2. Security

IP protection helps provide security against others, including IP trolls, competitors and counterfeiters. It allows you to bring legal action based on a registered right.

3. Commercial Potential

IP is an asset, which means potential revenue. IP can be commercialised and brought to market like any other asset. Apart from selling the product which the IP relates to, opportunities for commercialisation of IP can also include “licensing” where you license the IP to another business and may have the benefit of royalties..

4. Leverage of Business Value

IP as an asset has value and provided that it is properly registered and protected this can influence the value of your business or its potential value. This means that your business is more likely to attract investors for funding opportunities. It ultimately means that should you wish to sell your business; the value of your IP will add to the total value of the business and thereby directly impact on the purchase price.

This piece was written in collaboration with Intellectual Property Lawyer Claire Lehr (Cooley (UK) LLP)

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