Intellectual property rights are estimated to add 10 – 15% in value to the growth of an industry. Many businesses are aware that branding is important, but how do you make best use of intangible assets?
We specialise in all things entrepreneurial. A big part of this is understanding your industry and the unique set of issues and considerations that are important to your business. We offer tailored advice to meet your goals, minimise risk and avoid unnecessary costs.
IP audits: identifying your intellectual property assets
For start ups and scale ups a great starting point is an IP audit. This is a comprehensive review of the range of IP assets owned, used, licensed or acquired by your business. The purpose of an IP audit is to assess and manage exposure, to remedy any identified problems and to implement new practices to minimise risk going forward. It adds value to the business in the eyes of potential investors and enables business owners to make informed planning and strategy decisions.
Carrying out infringement searches before launching a new product or service is invaluable. The financial benefit and savings to be gained by SMEs is potentially huge.
We combine our expertise in intellectual property, branding and merchandising with a thorough understanding of commercial contracts, employment issues and applicable data protection laws.
Ring fencing assets
It is not unusual for companies to protect the revenue stream created by intellectual property assets by placing the ownership in a different company, with a licence back to the trading company for use. The reason for this type of planning is to be able to retain control of the IP assets if the trading company goes into liquidation.
Without a structure, on liquidation, the IP assets rank alongside any other business assets, being sold to the highest bidder by the liquidator.
Ideally, the ownership of the IP is placed in a separate company from the start. It is possible to move IP assets once the business is trading but the risk is there may be tax liabilities arising on the transfer if the brand has gone to market and has value, such as identifiable revenue streams. The starting point in ring fencing IP assets is to establish the estimated tax charges HMRC may place on the asset – we do provide guidance on this.
We look at your business as a whole and your products and services and identify which potential trade marks you should consider registering to maximise protection of your brand.
Registering trade marks early on offers early stage businesses significant benefits and protection throughout the UK. Registering early makes it quicker and less costly to enforce against competitors later on.
Logo or word mark?
A word mark enables your business to use the product or business name generally. A logo only gives you the right to use the word and logo in conjunction with each other. For early stage businesses, wider protection is key so it is advisable to start with registering the brand name as a word mark first.
Social media has become a platform for creating events and branding for entrepreneurs. For this a memorable logo that is visually striking could be key. Here, you may want to register both a separate logo and the word mark.
Are hashtags a good way to raise awareness for your goods/services? If your hashtag mark is distinctive and identifies your business as the source of the mark then you could register it as a trade mark. However, the aim of using hashtags is to draw attention to your business and your product not to indicate origin. The most successful hashtags are used freely by the public to build awareness so you may not want to register them as this could limit their use.
Cost of trade mark strategy
A basic trade mark registration costs around £700 plus VAT. We always keep costs in mind when developing a strategy to suit your business and we adopt a lean start up approach where possible.
We take a real interest in your business. Working with us is personal and will open up access to the full range of commercial solutions should you need them.