Happy World Intellectual Property (IP) Day! This year’s theme is “IP and Youth: Innovating for a better future” which aims to celebrate young entrepreneurs, encourage their creativity, and demonstrate how having the right IP in place, at the beginning of an entrepreneurial journey, will support them as they grow.
The campaign, run from WIPO, is cross-sectoral, recognizing that generation Z and millennials, who have grown up in the digital age, are rich in ambition and are already innovating for a better future.
Nurturing and encouraging entrepreneurial pursuits, innovators are also being urged to encourage policy makers to step up and support their ground-breaking endeavours.
So why is IP so important for young – and old – entrepreneurs? The reason is, that when an idea is big, so is its money making potential. Unscrupulous scammers, fraudsters and copycats are always on the lookout for the newest idea to rip-off, and so you must safeguard your creations. We, at SnapDragon, preach the importance of IP every day for a reason: it truly is an valuable asset which might be worth its weight in gold (or more!) as you grow and develop your idea and your business.
According to a report by the OECD and EUIPO, the global trade in fakes makes up a staggering 2.5% of world trade. To put this in to perspective, the trade in fakes is worth more than Ireland’s economy. Yes, the trade of fake shoes, handbags, watches, clothes and countless other products, is worth more than that of a small country – that is the true scale of the horrifying issue.
Safeguard your ideas
There will always be people who want to piggyback on your success. No business is immune, just look at the ongoing disputes between Shein and Zara, or M&S and Aldi. And sadly, being small doesn’t mean no one will notice you. The minute you’re online, and can be found by potential customers – scammers and counterfeiters can find you too. This is why you need to think about IP protection – ideally before you launch online. Depending on your creation, or invention, you can use copyright, trademarks, design rights or patents, all of which will protect you in different ways.
Here’s a brief rundown of each:
The British Library’s definition of a trademark is our favourite: “Trademarks are badges of origin. They distinguish the goods or services of one trader from another and can take many forms; for example words, slogans, logos, shapes, colours and sounds. Trademarks are registered for specific goods or services within individual subjects, known as classes. It is possible for others to register identical or similar marks as long as it is in a different, unconnected class.” For example SnapDragon is registered, by us, in Class 45 covering the management of intellectual property, but also by another SnapDragon, in class 22, covering tents.
Copyright protects your work – automatically – through the Berne Convention, preventing others from ‘copying’ your work. So it does what it says on the tin. Copyright covers ‘artistic works’ which can be everything from website copy and content to photographs, marketing materials, literary works, musical pieces and broadcasts. You should mark your work with the © symbol to warn others off but your work is still protected even if you don’t use the symbol. There’s more at the IPO.
Our favourite description of a patent is from WIPO. “A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. To get a patent, technical information about the invention must be disclosed to the public in a patent application”. This latter fact is well worth considering if you are keen to keep your invention completely secret.
Design Rights can be complex, as there are Registered Design Rights (RDR) and Unregistered Design Rights (UDR). Since Brexit, UK companies no longer benefit from as wide ranging UDR as previously.
A design right gives you exclusive rights to the aesthetics of your product, or part of your product (for instance the pattern, texture, colour, or shape). Design Rights do not cover the function of a product. Again, the British Library, has excellent information.
Grow your business
Copies and counterfeits can have devastating effects on your business; especially if you are just starting out. Do not underestimate the harm they will inflict on your revenue, reputation and customers.
Copycats selling fake versions of your products rarely do any safety testing – many fake products seized at ports around the world contain hazardous chemicals, loose parts and are simply not fit for purpose. In fact, our research shows that 28% of consumers have bought a counterfeit item unknowingly – so don’t let fakes cost you your good reputation.
Registering your intellectual property, as widely as you can, will help to safeguard your business from copycats and counterfeits, giving you real fire power if you need to fight back.
It isn’t as hard as it may seem
We know that the world of IP can sound a bit daunting, but registration is much easier than it might seem (and often cheaper too!). It may take a little time, but it’s well worth the effort. In fact, copyright protection requires no paperwork or fees at all – it’s an automatic right!
The thing to remember about intellectual property is that it is territorial – so consider registering your IP in every region that you trade (or as many as you can). Here are some useful links:
UK Intellectual Property Office – The IPO is the government body responsible for registering intellectual property rights in the UK.
AIPPI– The world’s leading international organisation dedicated to the protection of intellectual property.
European Union Intellectual Property Office – Protect your intellectual property in the European Union. There are grants available for EU registered businesses too.
Intellectual Property Owners association – IPO is a trade association for owners and others interested in patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.
And if you need some help?
At SnapDragon, fighting fakes is our sole purpose. We monitor the web, ecommerce, social media and domains to find copycats and counterfeits and, using your intellectual property to prove originality, to remove infringing listings and websites.
Along with our proprietary software, Swoop, our talented team of multi-lingual brand protection specialists protect brands across the globe. We make brand protection accessible to businesses of any size with our managed service and self-service options – we believe strongly that protecting your brand shouldn’t cost the earth.
Get in touch with us today about a free, no-obligation brand audit to flag any areas of potential concern, as well as highlight where your IP is already working hard to protect your brand and your consumers.