IP Information & News

Start-ups and SMEs — top tips to start thinking about IP

Sharon Kirby

By Sharon Kirby

Senior Trade Mark Attorney

If you’re a new business or start-up company, thinking about intellectual property (IP) might not be top of your to-do list. However, understanding IP on a basic level can bring you a host of benefits.

The five key things to remember are:

  • Don’t skimp — your brand is how your customers identify you and/or what you’re selling
  • Search and file before launching your company or a new product (or disclosing a potential patent)
  • IP rights can help you stop others copying you
  • IP rights can be valuable — they can be sold and licensed, which makes you an attractive prospect for investors
  • Ensure proper geographical coverage for any rights

Here's a selection of articles containing some top tips from our experts to help you learn how to protect your business.

Tip one — How to reduce costs during the patent process

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While not everyone has the resources to support the entire patent process, there are some features of it which can be especially useful for individuals, start-ups, small companies and universities. This article breaks down the patent process and gives options for gaining some protection while reducing costs. It also explains the window of opportunity that the patent process affords to give smaller companies a chance at raising the required level of funding.

Tip two — How to accurately mark your IP rights

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We’ve all seen different symbols that identify different types of IP rights, whether it’s ™, © or ® — but what do these mean and what’s the right way to use them? This simple guide explains why some companies (but not all) mark their products, services and creations with IP symbols, and the pitfalls you need to avoid.

Tip three — What makes a ‘good’ trade mark?

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Especially in the digital age, brands are everywhere. This can make it tricky to find an ideal name for your brand. Whether or not you’re in a position to protect elements of your brand as trade marks now, here’s some advice to help you make sure that your brand can be protected in the future — so you can rest easy knowing that your brand has longevity.

Tip four — Who owns my logo?

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While the question of logo ownership may seem straightforward — you’re using it, so it must belong to you — the answer may not be as simple as you think. Here’s a quick guide to understanding who really owns your logo, which is important to know if your company plans to be around for a while.

Tip five — Should I register my business name as a trade mark?

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This is one question without a straightforward answer. Thankfully, we have a simple guide to help you decide if you need to think about trade mark protection for your name, as well as how to go about it.

Tip six — How to ensure that you protect your brands

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Finally, we give you tips within a tip (aka tipception). Your brand names are likely to be some of your most valuable business assets, so these six steps will guide you through how to make sure that your brand names are secure and can be defended. Find out how to police and enforce any IP rights that you do possess, and how to use your brand names in the correct way to avoid losing your rights.

If you have any questions about IP or would like to seek professional advice, feel free to get in touch with me at sxk@udl.co.uk.

You can learn about the basics of IP rights by visiting our website service pages. We work across a number of industries, so you may find relevant advice and content on one of our sector pages. You might also benefit from reading our case studies to see IP in action.

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