Property – One of the main traps that start ups fall into is considering IP too late in the journey. With over 80% of most companies’ value now stemming directly from intangible assets it is something to start thinking about as soon as you have a business idea – many businesses think it is something that can be considered at a later date, and are surprised to find that this can lead to all kinds of difficulties.
- Startups need to think about IP right from the beginning – Many start-ups still don’t think about IP (or their wider intangible assets) until “the horse has bolted”. We unfortunately see many start-ups that have lost their brand name and domain names because they have not realized that registration at Companies House doesn’t automatically secure rights to use their trademarks and brand.
- Businesses need to avoid leaking their IP rights – There are still companies – both large and small – that are disclosing their inventions and ideas – perhaps when discussing collaboration or standards with other companies, or at exhibitions and conferences – before patent or design applications are filed – this “leakage” means that the company may never be in a position to control its IP rights. A chance word at the wrong time could lead to serious losses.
- Startups need to have a full overview – Whilst some start ups may seek to apply for IP protection, it is not often from a full perspective of all the technical, legal and commercial angles necessary. Very often scientists and developers will know where the respective R&D and product competition lies – however they overlook the IP competition – that is the design and patent applications that have already been filed that are not yet evident in the literature or marketplace.
- Inventors need to be IP cost-aware
Single inventors and small start-ups often do not investigate the full cost of patent ownership and exploitation. They begin filing a patent and then decide that they cannot afford the costs of continuing the process and seek to sell the invention during the patent application stage.
- Don’t assume you are automatically protected when you start to trade internationally-
Each country has different processes and methods for protecting IP and the pitfalls in obtaining IP protection in each country also vary. In Europe, a system operates to provide a method of protection across the EU states, thereby making it more streamlined to obtain patent protection.
In the EU, different trade restraints apply, and it is especially important to consider competition law – which covers the free movement of goods around the EU and the avoidance of the abuse of a dominant position in the market – when planning your IP strategy. Not all countries recognize IP rights in the same way as in Europe and in the US. India, China and Russia their IP laws operate very differently from those in the West.
- PCT rule is compulsory for International Patent Filing – The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international patent law treaty, concluded in 1970. It provides a unified procedure for filing patent applications to protect inventions in each of its contracting states. A patent application filed under the PCT is called an international application, or PCT application.
- World Patent is not possible – For better or for worse, there is no such thing as a world-wide patent. There is, however, something that approximates a world-wide patent application that can ultimately result in a patent being obtained in most countries around the world. This patent application is known as an International Patent Application, or simply an International Application. The international treaty that authorizes the filing of a single patent application to be treated as a patent application in countries around the world is the Patent Cooperation Treaty, most commonly referred to as the PCT. You can file an International Application pursuant to the rules of the PCT and that application will effectively act as a world-wide patent application, or at least a patent application in all of those countries that have ratified the PCT, which is virtually all of the countries where you would want a patent anyway.