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SMEs – Protect your intellectual property!

As highlighted during World Intellectual Property Day in 2016 and 2021, SMEs are the foundation of commerce across the globe, yet often struggle to find the time and resources to protect their Intellectual Property.

This World IP Day the European 4IP Council specifically highlighted how small businesses can protect their business and revenue through Intellectual Property, and we’ve summarised this and other key recommendations for you below.

SMEs – this is a call to action: Protect your IP – this is not necessarily as costly as you might expect.

Register your intellectual property

Registering your IP is, without a doubt the most effective form of protection.

A UK trademark can cost as little as £200, and the basic fee of a European Union trademark registration, which provides protection in all 28 countries of the European Union, costs €850.

Design rights are the linchpin of creative industries. The fee to register a design in the UK is £60 for your first design and you can apply for a European Union registered Community design, online, for €350.

Patents, on the other hand, can be expensive and difficult to get. Free UK government advice on patents will help you to ascertain, whether or not a patent is right for your business.

Copyright registration is not compulsory. Indeed, in 167 countries of the world, copyright arises automatically, when a literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including illustration and photography is created.

Although registering and defending your IP rights abroad may seem daunting, once again help is at hand. There is a free EU IP rights helpdesk providing confidential advice on IP issues tailored for SMEs. This advice spans EU related issues, plus there is also advice available for EU businesses operating in India, China, South East Asia and Latin America.

Defend your intellectual property

Once you have your IP portfolio secured, defend it.

If you find instances of on-line infringement (always mindful of the perils of a groundless threat), enforce your IP rights.

Monitor the internet, online marketplaces, social media sites and auction sites. Each of these portals will have a policy on intellectual property which will provide guidance on reporting infringement.

Consider how you might, in a non-confrontational and most importantly, non-accusatory language, contact the infringer.

The UK Government’s Intellectual Property Office has put in place various tools and services to deal with the effective protection of IP such as a mediation service and the IP Enterprise Court’s small claims track.

SMEs rely on their IP rights for 75% to 100% of their revenue (source: Federation of Small Businesses). IP is one of your most valuable assets and protecting it should be considered a key priority.

If you are concerned that your IP is being infringed, please contact SnapDragon. We can provide a free assessment and advice you on how best to proceed.

This blog contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice.

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Catapulted into brand protection by a need to defend her own product, our Head Dragon, Rachel’s, global experience of hugely diverse industries continually surprises us all in terms of daily relevance!