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Top IP Protection Tips from Wandsworth DigiTech

Next Wednesday May 10th at our monthly Meet Up we will be discussing IP and IP protection. To shed some light on the subject we are pleased to present you with some top tips about IP protection. The Meet Up itself will be a general discussion open to all. Our Meet Ups are informal, relaxed and fun. Aside for some great information, it is also a great way to meet other tech enthusiasts in the area. If you want to join us, you are most welcome. The registration link is http://bit.ly/2oaxhbG       

In the meantime, here are our top IP tips.

Identify any possible IP you have:

Many businesses assume that anything they develop is brand new and no one else has it, or something like it. Very often this is not the case. It may end up that you have only a slightly different idea and this may not be enough to put your stamp on a product or idea. It has to be unique and it cannot infringe anyone else’s rights.

So, ask yourself,

  1. Do we have something that we can protect?
  2. Are we going to infringe any third-party IP?

Understand Confidential Information

Confidentiality is a major consideration for IP protection. As soon as you have put it out on the market or told people about it without protecting it, you don’t have a right to patent it. Anyone you have told can contest it. Particularly if you are already selling the item. At this point it is too late to get any sort of IP protection as your product is already “out there”. The best way to deal with this is to get everyone whom you tell/involve in the project to sign a non-disclosure agreement before you tell them anything. There are plenty of examples available on line. Make sure the one you chose covers the UK and includes a clause on ownership.

Think also of the location of your patent, Are you just protecting for the UK? If so your product is fair game in any other jurisdiction. Many companies have fallen into this trap.

Use The Free Patent Databases

Has what you have developed already been created, or something very similar? Check first. Don’t get caught by wasting 100’s of thousands of pounds and potentially years of your life on something that is already protected by someone else. Obtaining a patent is an expensive business and there are many people who have been caught at the wrong end of this cycle. Here’s a link that you can use to do your research.

http://worldwide.espacenet.com/advancedSearch

Understand R&D tax credits and the Patent Box Tax Reduction Scheme

We will be covering this subject on June 14th in our Master Class with Anthony Lalsing of Menzies. (see www.wandsworthdigitech.com for more details). Simply put, R&D tax credits can be complex and there are many rules that go with it. Anthony will be outlining what you need to do to get it right and how to set it up so that you are eligible for tax reliefs. When done correctly, you can claim back a sizeable chunk of your expenses, whether you are making a profit or not.

There is also a scheme called the Patent Box Scheme. This gives you tax relief on expenses from patent applications, though as above, this needs to be set up properly. There is plenty of information available on the government website ( https://www.gov.uk/guidance/corporation-tax-the-patent-box) and if you are still in doubt, talk to your accountant.

Understand The Law Of Commissioned Works

This is when you involve a third party to develop your product with/for you. You do not automatically have the rights to the IP. In fact, in many cases the commissioned agency does. You need to be careful as to what you agree to. Read all the small print terms and also have a frank conversation with your third party agency before work begins. This includes adding your own clauses into the contract that will give you the rights to the finished work.

In short, think carefully and strategically before you embark on your journey. Get all the facts before you start building a product and make sure you understand the international patent and IP rules that surround your products. It will save you in the long run.

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