Introduction to Intellectual Property
In this quick guide, we will provide a brief introduction to intellectual property and how it can be exploited by exporters to help them achieve better success in overseas markets.
What Is It?
Intellectual property (otherwise known as IP) is the name for resources that a business has which are valuable but do not have a physical basis (such as equipment or stockholding). These are sometimes also referred to as intangible assets.
What makes intellectual property or IP special is that it can be legally protected through intellectual property rights or IPRs. These include (but are not limited to):
- Trade marks which protect brands
- Copyrights which protect original creative work
- Patents which protect inventions
- Design Rights which protect physical designs and ornamentation of objects
IP within a business can also include things such as: client lists, research and development, business plans, financial information – and so on.
These can also be protected by use of confidentiality agreements and other types of contracts and agreements. Some businesses are more “IP rich” than others. However, every business operating in an international capacity needs to have a thoughtful approach to IP.
How Do I Use It?
With intellectual property it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start. This information pack will let you know more, but as a general rule you should look to use the following process.
- Identify key IP – first it is a priority to identify and ideally create a register of the key intellectual property assets that you hold and make use of in your business. If you can also ascribe a value to these, that is also beneficial. The way that this is best achieved is often to imagine what it would cost if the IP had fallen into competitors hands or had to be created again from scratch. For a clearer view, an IP Audit from an IP Specialist can be very helpful
- Prioritise and budget for protection of key intangible assets – once you know which IP is your priority, you should seek to protect it as soon as possible. When it comes to international trade this is particularly important, as entering a new market involves deploying your IP in an entirely new place. Having a budget for intellectual property will mean that this is something that is factored into costs and viewed as an investment
- Strategise for the growth and acquisition of further IP – once you have established a proactive approach to the intellectual property that you already have – you are then well-placed to spend time and resources developing and growing this IP. This can be achieved by spending time on key assets (e.g. promoting a brand so it has more appeal, improving copyright resources such as video libraries and so forth.) In addition to this, you find gaps in your IP portfolio which can be strengthened by the acquisition of new IP from other businesses
- Constantly review and monitor IP – with a proactive approach to IP now firmly in place, you can establish oversight over your key IP to enforce any intellectual property rights you have in place. This constant vigilance will ensure that should anyone infringe on your IPRs, that you are in the position to act decisively to stop damage to your business
What Happens Internationally?
International trade brings to bear a host of intellectual property considerations at the point where a business begins to operate in overseas markets. Many of these issues are explored in further detail in this information pack under their respective headings.
- Launching a brand in a new jurisdiction, but not having the trade mark registered in that jurisdiction. This would require the registration of the trade mark with the local Intellectual Property Office (IPO). A proactive approach would also typically involve registering the trade mark in the local languages both linguistically and visually
- Understanding how automatic rights such as copyright and unregistered design rights translate in different jurisdictions and how this might impact the security of previously safe resources at the point of international use
Within the sections of this information pack, we will provide some examples of, in each type of intellectual property right, the IPR functions in practice within an international context. If you have any particular questions do not hesitate to get in touch with OBD or Virtuoso Legal, we would be happy to assist.
Who are Virtuoso Legal?
Virtuoso Legal are an intellectual property specialist law firm, established in 2007 and based in London and Leeds. Virtuoso Legal have dedicated experts who are able to assist across the spectrum of intellectual property, from registering, commercialising and enforcing IPRs.
www.virtuosolegal.com 0113 237 9900