As World Intellectual Property Day (April 26) draws to a close, we would like highlight the issue of online intellectual property (IP) infringement and its impact on small companies.

World Intellectual Property Day

The latest research from the Federation of Small Business demonstrates the extent to which small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the United Kingdom (UK) are affected by this issue. Their research found that one third of the businesses that suffer IP violation or misuse take no action due to a lack of resources and information as to the correct routes and costs involved.

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 trademark in the UK 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, now costs €850.

Design rights are the linchpin of creative industries. The registration fee 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 advice on the UK Government’s website 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. The EU funds four IP rights helpdesks staffed by experts who can provide free, confidential advice on IP issues tailored advice for SMEs. Three of these are specialised in issues relating to 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 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 (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 us. We can provide a free assessment and advise you on how best to proceed.

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