From start-up to market – the importance of IP along the way

Frances Salisbury talks about other people’s IP rights and how they might affect you…

You should also consider other people’s IP rights and how they might affect you. It is useful to think about this early on, and to regularly reassess, as the situation will change over time. Having an awareness of other people’s IP at an early stage gives you time to develop a strategy for dealing with those rights, and could avoid costly mistakes. Potential investors will want to see that you will be free to market your technology, when the time comes. Your strategy might be to do nothing, if it seems likely that the right will expire before you get to market. Other strategies include designing around other people’s IP, challenging the validity of the right, or obtaining a license.

There are many ways in which businesses can improve their IP position. The UK Intellectual Property Office website is a good place to start, providing further information about the types of protection available, and offering an ‘IP Health Check’ to help you recognise IP within your business. Working with a firm of patent and trademark attorneys is also a good idea, as they can help you to identify the IP you already have, and identify any areas where you might consider registering for protection. They can also help identify relevant third party rights, and help you establish strategies for dealing with them.

Your IP strategy is a valuable asset for your business, and worth investing in.

Frances Salisbury is a Partner at patent attorneys Mewburn Ellis LLP.