Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Collaboration Is Key; ALEX SHIEL, Partner and Head of Intellectual Property and IT at Ward Hadaway, Looks at How Working in Partnership Is Helping to Bring Rewards to the Region's Businesses

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Collaboration Is Key; ALEX SHIEL, Partner and Head of Intellectual Property and IT at Ward Hadaway, Looks at How Working in Partnership Is Helping to Bring Rewards to the Region's Businesses

Article excerpt

VIEWED through the rather distorting prism of TV shows such as The Apprentice, business is a dog-eat-dog world where the only way of getting ahead is to grind the competition into submission.

The reality, as those in this year's Fastest 50 would attest, is rather different - indeed, collaboration has emerged as one of the key drivers of the economic recovery.

Working together for a common goal may not sound like a traditional recipe for successful capitalism, but this is increasingly the way of the modern commercial world.

Whether it is governments joining forces to stave off the collapse of the global banking system, public-sector bodies accessing private-sector finance and expertise or companies combining their specialist knowledge to make new products or access new markets, collaboration is now commonplace.

The advent of new technology is partly a driver of this trend - witness the proliferation of online social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn - and this has helped to shrink the world when it comes to commerce.

Of course, in order for this co-operation to succeed, mutual trust and a clear agreement between those involved is vital.

At Ward Hadaway, we are helping an increasing number of UK companies to enter into collaborative agreements or technology licensing deals with major overseas companies.

While many of these are with well-known new economies such as China, we are seeing more agreements with companies in India and countries like Vietnam.

UK businesses are finding ways to be smarter about how they make business relationships with foreign companies through collaborative working rather than just arranging contracts to manufacture goods overseas.

Such agreements can help to open up more markets that benefit the UK business and its foreign partner than would otherwise have happened, but it is vital that steps are taken to protect the intellectual property (IP) of the UK business. Measures such as patents and trademark registrations help to ensure that, if the collaborative relationship breaks down, the overseas partner cannot use the technology or brands of the UK company. …

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