Intellectual property advice for small businesses
Entrepreneurs, by definition, are good at coming up with innovative and commercially viable ideas. But protecting these ideas, whilst at the same time trying to promote them can be tricky.
What kind of intellection property protection is available?
One of the first things that small business owners will want to protect is their brand. The best way to do this is by registering a trademark, which gives the business the exclusive right to use that name in the particular class (or classes) that they have registered.
For certain types of business, patents are worth considering, when trying to protect and idea that is novel and has a practical use.
Much of the innovation that we see amongst our client base tends to be digital – and in particular – software driven. Software patents are particularly difficult to obtain in the EU, but securing a patent offers 20 years protection from competition for your particular invention and can be incredibly valuable.
A much more accessible and cost-effective method of protecting your intellectual property is to assert your copyright to a particular piece of intellectual property. Copyright protects the expression of an idea rather than the idea itself, and can be used for software code, web design, data or artistic works. Unlike trademarks, a particular claim to copyright doesn’t need to be registered, and as long as the work is original, the right is created as soon as the work is created.
But perhaps most at risk in a rapidly growing small business is its internal confidential information. This might extend to customer lists, proprietary data and trade secrets, any of which might be at risk if employees or contractors have access to these resources, then leave the company taking the information elsewhere.
Using a well drafted employment contract, can help prevent this. Equally, using a Non Disclosure Agreement for all contractors and third party suppliers who are likely to be exposed to this type of information is essential.
How can we help?
One particular area of overlap between the legal and taxation services we offer is that discussions to do with intellectual property often also relate to accessing the government’s generous tax incentive to encourage business to invest in R+D. Making a successful R+D claim enables qualifying companies to dramatically reduce their corporation tax bill. Our unique set up offering legal and taxation advice under one roof puts us in a good position to help with this.
Equally, if you are wondering how best to protect your IP, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line.