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Intellectual Property - what any growing business needs to know

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What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual Property (IP) can be classed as an intangible “creation of the mind”; including new inventions, symbols, literature and artistic works. IP is something you physically create – it is not an idea on its own.

Copyright, designs, patents and trademarks are all classed as intellectual property types. Understanding IP and the rights it gives you can stop your brand names, inventions, the design of your products and the things you produce being stolen by others. You generally own IP if you created it or bought the rights from the creator (or prior owner).

How can IP help your business grow?

1. Income could be created for your business through the licencing and commercialisation of IP-protected products or services. 2. IP can raise the value of your business with investors and financing institutions. 3. IP assets may significantly raise the value of your business in the event of a sale, merger or acquisition.

Commercialising IP

If you have an innovative idea, you could start a new business to market it, create a new business from your existing one or diversify your existing business. If you have minimal investment and are unable to create a new business quickly, you could earn royalties by licencing your IP to other businesses for them to develop further.

This method could also be used if you want to concentrate on the main application of a product while a second party concentrates on another application – they may have the additional equipment, staff or other means to do so. 

Researching and finding businesses with the right delivery and distribution methods is key if you want your innovation to grow. When agreeing licencing, documentation and agreements need to be detailed enough to minimise problems and resolve any later delivery issues. There should also be an escape clause in the contract that enables cancellation under certain agreed circumstances.

Another way to capitalise upon your idea and expand rapidly could be to franchise your innovation if the brand is strong.

Chris Smith, Business Events Manager, Innovation Directorate, Intellectual Property Office.

Want to know more about Intellectual Property and how to use it? Boost Business Lancashire is running a free event hosted by a representative of the Intellectual Property Office on February 19th at The Globe Centre in Accrington.

Find out more and book your place.

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