After attending the SheffEX exhibition on June 2 at Ponds Forge, it was great to see many new companies emerging out of the recession.
However, an unawareness of intellectual property rights and how they may be exploited for the benefit of an enterprise became apparent.
Patents, designs, and trademarks are essential tools to help protect your company’s ideas and identity. It is never too early to review what your business may protect by means of a patent, registered design or trademark.
It is surprising what may be protected by intellectual property rights; if a piece of software produces a technical effect it may be patentable, a means of presenting a product that is peculiar to your company alone may be trademarked, or if any of your products are visually distinctive and unique compared to anyone else’s, then their design may be registered.
Indeed, a strong IP strategy will identify your intellectual property and where that property would benefit from protection, avoiding potentially costly missed opportunities.
Following the ascension of the Intellectual Property Act 2014, and expected gradual implementation from October 1, 2014, changes to the law provide new opportunities and pitfalls to be aware of. Opportunities include: that products can now be marked with a web address instead of a patent publication number, and the ascension of the UK to the Hague Agreement, where applications for international registered design rights can be made for a single application and lower fee than previously.
New pitfalls to be aware of include criminal sanctions for the deliberate copying of a registered design and that the ownership of the rights to an unregistered design lie with the design’s creator, not the person who commissioned the work. This makes assignment of rights to unregistered designs essential in any work that is produced by a third party. Hence, in light of the Intellectual Property Act 2014 it is essential for all businesses to review and refresh their IP strategy.
n Franks & Co incorporating Hulse & Co, helping protect South Yorkshire businesses’ intellectual property throughout the world for over 100 years.
n Contact: Frazer.Bye@franksco.com; 0114 2499666; www.franksco.com