Learn How to Guard Intellectual Property

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Byline: By DAVID WILLIAMSON Western Mail

Failure to protect intellectual property can jeopardise the future of a business but building on such assets can open new avenues for growth, experts will claim at free seminars this week. Research by the Patent Office has found that more than one-third of business owners do not understand the importance of intellectual property. Around a quarter recognise it as significant but do not know how to start managing it.

The Patent Office is holding events on Thursday at the Wales Millennium Centre to guide members of the business community through the minefield of copyright, trademarks and intellectual property.

Lawrence Smith-Higgins, head of awareness said, 'We've become more involved in small businesses and we are more appreciative of the misunderstandings they have got and where the issues of importance lie.

'When we think about intellectual property the vast majority of businesses will think, 'This isn't for us.' Nothing could be further from the truth.'

Widespread ignorance about how to register and protect the name of a company as a trade mark, he said, was threatening the viability of companies. In the internet age, competition for the best names has heightened, with businesses ready to resort to litigation to protect their right to use it.

He said, 'We've found an alarming number of small businesses which think that once they have registered their names at Companies House they are free to use them in the course of trade. They find to their despondency it belongs to somebody else.'

Mr Smith-Higgins said that at a recent event the owner of a young business asked him to do a database search to ensure it was not being used by another company. …