Start-Up Businesses And Intellectual Property
If you are launching a business start-up it is vital that you check that the domain name you require is available to register, along with any Intellectual Property rights you may wish to apply for such as a Trade Mark or Design Registration.
What Wayne Rooney Can Teach Start-Up Businesses About Intellectual Property
Intellectual Property . . . to the uninitiated the entire subject can be a minefield.
Quite often start-up companies will spend a small fortune on their logos, banners, stationery, uniforms and so on without making the necessary preliminary checks to confirm that the name of their business or product is available for them to use freely.
Trade marks for example are classified by 45 different categories of products and services and if you decide to apply for a registered TM you will need to state which ‘classes’ you intend to trade in on your application form (more than one will incur an additional fee).A quick check with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) will confirm whether someone in your line of business has already registered the name you want, or has applied to do so.
Registering a trade mark can be expensive – particularly if you are looking to protect your property across all territories (World Rights). Indeed the cost of obtaining World Rights could be prohibitive in the case of start-up businesses, which may instead opt to focus on securing protection in the location(s) they intend to trade initially.
Trade marks are currently renewable every 10 years.
Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney was forced to contact The World Intellectual Property Organisation to prevent the owner of two registered domain names: ‘WayneRooney.com’ and ‘WayneRooney.co.uk’ from setting up a website under these domains and thus profiting from the ‘Wayne Rooney’ brand.
Frankly, unless you have the income of a footballer, righting this kind of IP problem can burn a serious hole in your pocket. The diligent approach for the new business owner is to make certain it doesn’t arise in the first place.
As well as considering trade mark protection, another potential problem is that of domain names (As Mr Rooney discovered). When naming your business, do make sure that the domain name you want is available as well as any other versions you wish to buy. (You can check with domain provider Namecheap, or whoever you intend buying your domains from).
Considering that it costs around $9.95 a year to register a dotcom domain name, there really can be no excuse for not registering your web identity just as soon as you have completed your ‘security checks.’
So before you begin your latest venture it’s wise to secure the domain names you want, along with any IP protection you deem necessary. (You may wish to consult an IP lawyer). You can then go ahead and arrange design of your logo, banners, stationery and everything else you need to launch your new business with confidence.
Patents . . . D-I-Y? Or Patent Attorney?
To the uninitiated the whole subject of Intellectual Property can be a minefield, particularly when it comes to obtaining a patent for your invention. Patents are not only time-consuming to secure (four years isn't unheard of), but they can prove inordinately expensive to acquire too. Which is why some companies or entrepreneurs choose to go down the D-I-Y route rather than seek help from a patent attorney.
Whilst it's perfectly possible to file your own patent application with the UK Intellectual Property Office in the same way you might register a Trade Mark or a Registered Design, it is not advisable to do so. Because of their complexity, patents are a whole different 'ball game' from other forms of IP.
Rob Lucas is an expert in Intellectual Property management who works alongside the British Library in helping devise its IP e-learning courses. In his book: "The Big and Easy Guide to Take a Bright Idea from Drawing Board to Successful Revenue," Lucas emphasises the importance of consulting a patent attorney when making a patent application, rather than going down the D-I-Y route, as you might well do with a Trade Mark or Registered Design application.
The advantages of using a patent attorney include:Insider knowledge as regards technical terms and industry jargonSkilled at reviewing drawings/ analysing conceptsAbility to handle disputes and deal with IPO queriesHaving a patent attorney named as your 'agent' on the application suggests to the IPO that you are a professional
Patent attorneys are similar to lawyers in that they will undoubtedly have different main areas of focus. It can be useful (and indeed time-saving) to employ a patent attorney who specialises in dealing with your particular sector or industry rather than a generalist, as he or she will be familiar with the technical jargon and know how to best express your concept in the application.
Through its latest initiative Patent Box, the UK Government wants to encourage more businesses to realise their innovations here in the UK, rather than taking them overseas to develop.
From April 2013, qualifying companies will be taxed 10% on eligible profits from patented products, instead of the standard 24%. As you are almost certainly aware, the cost of obtaining a patent can be substantial, frequently running into several thousands of pounds, but then so could the potential tax savings achieved through the Patent Box scheme.
Why not find out more about this ground-breaking scheme today - and see if your business qualifies?
By the way, as we speak the Government is looking into the possibility of considerably shortening the time it takes to grant a patent - another step in the right direction for helping UK businesses become more innovative and profitable.