Keep Your Trade Secrets to Yourself

Article excerpt

Budding tycoons, dry-mouthed and nervously pitching their innovations to potential investors is not just the preserve of entrepreneurs on the latest series of Dragons Den.

While the multi-millionaire Dragons on the show may be poised to back the right business, entrepreneurs throughout the country will also be trying to persuade banks and other investors to help get their projects off the ground.

But according to Shake-speares, the Birmingham-based law firm, businesses need to protect their trade secrets right from the outset or risk much greater problems and even business failure.

These can include a variety of confidential information ranging from design of products to formulae for food and drink, databases of customers/contacts, through to computer software and hardware specification.

It warns it is essential that businesses register the intellectual property of new ideas to ensure they have the strongest possible right to prevent others from using the same or similar ideas.

The most obvious way to protect a brand or product is to register it as a trade mark, thus giving exclusive right to use that mark in the UK, Europe or wider for at least ten years as well as providing a strong deterrent to potential infringers.

Another option is copyright, which entitles ownership of the work to its creator or employer, where employed. An original drawing, design, text or logo may receive copyright protection if it satisfies the test of artistic merit where protection is only given for invention and the application of the mind.

With the boom of the internet, entrepreneurs should also give consideration to obtaining at least their preferred top level domain name and ideally, variations of their name to prevent third parties from registering them. …