Contractors supported to protect intellectual property

Monday 4 November 2013

Contractors and other small businesses now have access to additional support to help them manage their intellectual property, after the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) launched a new suite of online tools.

IP for Business is a range of five separate business tools to help small firms and self-employed professionals, either in the creative industries or elsewhere, to identify and protect their intellectual property assets with the help of up-to-date guidance.

The IPO says the tools are designed to allow businesses to respond to the challenges posed by intellectual property law in an increasingly digital and globalised world. While for many smaller firms understanding of their legal rights and how they can make the most of their intellectual property assets remains relatively scarce, the tools are designed to help bridge the knowledge gap and encourage companies to protect and develop the assets upon which they can call.

“Intellectual property is a prospect which small businesses often find rather daunting. However, ‘IP for Business’ shows is that with the correct support and guidance, this doesn’t have to be the case,” said intellectual property minister Lord Younger.

“The perceived barriers to successfully protecting and managing IP can be easily overcome. All businesses, regardless of their size or turnover, can use these products and I would urge them to do so to tap in their full growth potential.”

IP Equip forms the centrepiece of the toolkit, a free online training platform that helps contractors identify which of their assets are protected by intellectual property law. It then offers guidance and advice on the best way to put together a strategy for protecting their rights. An app will also be available for Google and Android mobile devices to provide remote access to all the platform’s resources. On top of this, IP Basics consists of a series of guides for business owners explaining how they can use IP to their benefit, while IP Health Check is an interactive service where they can evaluate how their business is doing, identify and then value their total intellectual property assets. A separate tool, IP Master Class, comprises of an accredited course for advisors to develop and enhance their knowledge so they can give better advice to their clients.

Roger Burt, president of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, says that intellectual property is an asset rarely considered by businesses next to other more pressing concerns.

“Small businesses and their advisors, if they understand it at all, generally see IP as a low priority. To engage their interest, you have to talk to them about its business benefits, not about the intricacies of intellectual property, particularly patent law,” he said.

By focusing on the business potential of intellectual property the new tools demonstrate the importance of these valuable assets for commercial success, agrees Catherine Wolfe, president of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys. She added that the tools demonstrate how beneficial it can be to speak to a specialist in the early stages of developing intellectual property assets.

By Victoria McDonnell

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