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Protecting your greatest asset

This the third article from the Booming Baby Business panel session at the British Library on Tuesday.  Following the session from David Warrilow, of LONDON IP, here is a brief Q and A about protecting the greatest assets in your business.  Your intellectual property.

Intellectual property is all about making money and deciding what is valuable in your business and protecting that.

What’s the difference between patents, designs and trademarks?

These are the definitions that the Intellectual property office use…

Patents: Patents protect what makes things work – like what makes a wheel turn or the chemical formula of your favourite fizzy drink.

Trademarks: Trademarks are symbols (like logos and brand names) that distinguish goods and services in the marketplace.

Designs: Designs are what something looks like – from the shape of a take-away cup to the body of jet.

Copyright: Copyright is an automatic right which applies when the work is fixed, that is written or recorded in some way.

What do I need if I have created a product?

Patents and Designs protection are what you need if you are inventing a product.  The best way to discover if you are ready to apply for a patent, go to a patent attorney and discuss your product or idea and show them what you have.  They will then give you their expert view on whether what you have is patentable.

Is it worth filing for protection?

If you have created something that is protectable the is almost always worth applying for registered protection.  It can be expensive, but it is your greatest business asset, for example;  one of the most important things that a franchise owns is its brand name.

What does a patent mean?

A patent means that nobody else can make a product that is the same as yours. For a patent to be granted it has to be new and not obvious in light of what has been done before.  If there is a difference between your idea and another idea, you may be able to get a patent.

You can investigate Worldwide patents yourself using http://ep.espacenet.com/

What’s required to file a patent

You don’t need a working model.  In the patent application you have to be able to describe the invention clearly and completley enough so that someone reading the application is able to make the invention work.  A written document is required and drawings are useful in helping to explain the invention.

The cost of using a patent attorney

Generally it costs between £800 and £2000 to file a patent in UK.  If you are going to use a patent attorney then ask them to break down the costs in advance, however the cost of not using a patent attorney can be far greater if you don’t obtain the protection that you may have been entitled to.

Why get a patent?

You need to think about how you want your business to run in the future.  Many retailers require you to have a patent on your product before they will even look at you.

How long do patents last?

Patents can last up to 20 years.  They give you a possible monopoly on your product and exclusive rights to how that technology or design is used.

Where can you get more information?

British Library

Intellectual property office

Business Link

Disclaimer: The information in this article does not constitute legal advice and we highly recommend that you speak with a patent attorney if this is something that you are considering.

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