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Protecting your Intellectual Property Rights

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The Intellectual Property Office ('IPO') recently announced the results of one of their latest surveys, the Intellectual Property Awareness Survey of Business, which showed that: - • as little as 15% of small businesses have sought advice on how best to protect their IP; and, • only 11% of firms assign responsibility for managing their IP rights compared to 43% of larger companies. Therefore, are the smaller companies missing out on potential valuable income from their IP rights…..it would seem so! When the results were announced, the Intellectual Property Minister, Baroness Wilcox stated that: "Innovation is the backbone of our economy, and it's encouraging that many businesses know the importance of protecting and exploiting their ideas. However it's clear that many smaller companies aren't aware of how to make the most of their intellectual property." To tackle this problem, the IPO has set up a free online IP Healthcheck (http://www.ipo.gov.uk/business/iphealthcheck.htm) which companies can use as well as delivering seminars and guidance documents on their website www.ipo.gov.uk. The Healthcheck is designed so that each of the main areas of IP (patents, trade marks, designs and copyright) are broken down so that you can answer questions on the area you wish. Once you have finished answering the questions, the IPO creates a confidential report tailored on the answers given together with recommendations and guidance on protecting your IP right. You may ask why you need to do an IP Healthcheck and the answer is simple. IP rights are one of the most valuable assets that a company can have as it helps to promote your business to both clients and customers. Also by protecting your IP, you can prevent others from exploiting your ideas and infringing your rights which can lead to legal disputes and you can also exploit your own rights by selling or licensing your rights to other companies or individuals. If you would like any advice on selling or licensing your IP right, please contact Neil Ashford on 01245 493939. If you believe someone may have infringed your IP rights and you are considering taking legal action against them, please contact Justin Emerson in our Civil Litigation department on 01245 493939. The above is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.