Your Do’s and Don’ts guide to Intellectual Property

Do think carefully about what intellectual property expenditure is essential at the very early stages, and what can (or should) wait.  The spend on intellectual property protection at the outset needs consideration and budgeting. Full protection may not be necessary until you are closer to generating a revenue stream or you are, at least, further on in an investment process.  A common mistake is to apply for patent or design protection too early in the development process, necessitating further (or expanded) applications later if significant changes are made.  A good IP attorney should be able to assist in developing a strategic plan that will ensure you are adequately protected at each stage of a commercial process, without unnecessary expenditure.

Do determine whether you have IP in your company and whether or not you wish to protect it legally. Make sure your decision makers know why they are investing in IP because if they do not then the investment may be deemed a waste of money.

Do publicise that you have rights and mark your products/website/packaging/brand name with the relevant mark to indicate your IP rights. This informs the public of your claim to the respective IP.

Do use non-disclosure agreements wherever possible, particularly in the early stages of setting up your business and finalising your product/service. NDAs will provide you with added security, but are only really useful where the risk is containable.

Do keep a written record of the development of your product/service. Where you have overcome technical problems, there will have been innovation, and where there is innovation there is likely to be intellectual property to protect.

Do liaise with your marketing team to make sure they are not disclosing anything which might jeopardise your ability to obtain registered intellectual property rights.

Don’t choose a new company name or create a brand name without first checking whether it has been registered as a trade mark by another company. If it has and you use it, you may face a very costly rebrand!

Don’t copy someone else’s design or technology without searching to see if it is protected first by patents or registered designs. If you do, you could face a lawsuit or destruction of a vital technology/product development for your company.

Don’t publish or advertise your unique products or services without first discussing with an IP attorney to see what intellectual property rights you might have, and how you can best protect them.

Don’t falsely mark goods/website/packaging to indicate you have registered IP when you don’t. This is considered to be misleading and you could be fined and in worst case scenarios even imprisoned.


For more information on intellectual property and for advice concerning your intellectual property: