This week we're focusing on small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Every business starts with an idea, and every business owns or uses intellectual property (IP). Your IP can include your web site, business name or logo. IP assets can also include innovative technology, know how, designs and secret recipes.
Here are Ten Top IP Tips for helping SMEs identify and make the most of the intellectual property assets they own.
- A business can't manage what it doesn’t measure, and we recommend the IPO's IP Health Check as a great place to start your IP journey. Identifying what intellectual property (IP) a business owns can help you maximise its true value.
- IPO’s free online IP for Business tools and training have been accessed more than 204,680 times, helping SMEs take their ideas to market. You can learn more about IP rights with our IP Equip e-learning tool: four simple modules covering the basics of copyright, designs, trade marks and patents.
- Understanding IP can help reduce your exposure to business risk. Undertaking comprehensive IP searches at the outset will help identify potential infringement issues with third parties’ IP at an early stage. A search for registered rights (patent, trade mark or registered design) can help you with this process.
- Develop an IP Strategy and integrate this into your business plans. IP can play an important role in equity finance. Investors will want to understand how a business has protected its IP and how it relates to future income streams. IP for Investment will help you identify and assess your IP assets in the context of your business strategy. A business could consider informal reporting on its IP, linking profitability to its intangible assets.
- Consider strategic protection of registered rights. Identifying potential future markets and manufacturing bases could help you with identifying territories of interest. The IPO attaché network can support you if you’re considering trading overseas.
- Ensure that your IP ownership can be proved. This is of relevance with IP such as copyright, for example.
- Ensure that where appropriate your business IP is secure: password-protect important information, keep documents in a secure place and control access to sensitive information. We recommend that you use a non-disclosure agreement if you work with others.
- Identify regional business support providers. In England, each region has a Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hub. Scotland supports businesses through Scottish Enterprise. In Wales, there is business support via Welsh Government. Invest NI covers Northern Ireland. The UK Patent Library Network (Patlib) and Business and IP Centres (BIPCs) offer a range of support on IP and business.
- Engage proactively with the IP profession. Expert IP knowledge and support can be accessed through the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) and Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (CITMA).
- Finally, why not keep your IP knowledge up to date by attending events listed on our IPO events calendar.