A Step in the Right Direction; How the Intellectual Property Office Can Help You Take Your Idea to the Next Level

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A ll businesses use aspects of intellectual property (IP): it could be the name it trades under, the process it uses or the products and services it provides.

The UK's future economic success depends largely on this ability to innovate and create new products and services, so it is vitally important that businesses are supported in their efforts to understand intellectual property and implement it in their development plans.

The Intellectual Property Office offers a raft of initiatives to help businesses realise the benefits that IP awareness can bring and allow them to use it to grow and strengthen their enterprises at this crucial time. Below are some examples of the initiatives we have developed to work with individuals and companies, helping them to make smart choices when it comes to intellectual property..

The IP 'Healthcheck' online tool The Intellectual Property Office launched its 'IP Healthcheck' online tool in February this year. The tool is free to use and will help businesses find out how to protect and exploit their intellectual assets.

For many entrepreneurs, marketing their product or service can often take centre stage, and it is only when a potential problem rears its head that they make the call to enquire about their intellectual property rights. However, unless you have already secured the rights, once an idea is out in the public domain it is often too late.

Knowing where to start can be the biggest hurdle, so the tool aims to bridge the gap between creating your product or service and going ahead with the actual process of protecting your idea.

Through the website, you can identify what you need to do and why, as well as having the different types of intellectual property fully explained.

In about 10 minutes you will be taken through a series of structured questions that cut intellectual property categories down to what is specifically relevant to you. By giving just yes or no answers, you will trigger your own personalised profile.

At the end, you are given a set of headline actions and contacts, which will appear as a single page on your screen.

You will also be sent a confidential report with more detail on the intellectual property gaps your business may need to address, which are related to the size and nature of your work.

As well as giving you exclusivity for any innovative products and services, your intellectual property equally applies to your brands, your plans, your software and your website. All of these can be protected through a combination of rights. Some you will pay to register, such as patents and trade marks, and others arise naturally, such as copyright.

When you start to put these together, you can create a formidable set of commercial rights to strengthen your competitive edge..

Think IP Awareness Seminars The Intellectual Property Office runs a programme of free Intellectual Property (IP) awareness seminars across the UK. The Think IP seminars are aimed at businesses who want to find out more about the benefits of using IP in their business. It doesn't matter if you are an artist, an inventor, a sole trader or a small business, it will still be relevant to you.

Over the course of the day delegates will learn about the four elements of IP; Patents, Trade Marks, Designs and Copyright and how they relate to their business. Delegates will also hear from a local business entrepreneur and learn first-hand how IP helped them grow.

IP attorneys and Intellectual Property Office will be on hand throughout the day offering advice and answering questions. …