An insight into intellectual property

Paris Smith representatives Laura Trapnell and Abigail Sinden led the fourth seminar for our 2015 cohort of budding entrepreneurs. Here we share some of their valuable advice regarding intellectual property.

Intellectual property (IP) refers to patents, copyright, design rights and trademarks. When protected in law, the creator can earn the recognition, including financial gains, from what they have invented. In its simplest terms, intellectual property is owned if you have created it or bought the rights from the creator or previous owners.

It’s serious business and entrepreneurs should ignore IP at their peril. Intangibles and IP are now estimated to represent more than 75% of the value of all major capital markets and IP is described as an emerging asset class. Companies demonstrating IP sophistication and management consistently out-perform their markets and competitors.

However, Laura stressed that many companies are unaware of the financial and commercial value that IP delivers. The result is that you could undervalue your business. IP rights cannot only put your company above your competitors, but they can also considerably increase your value multiplier when you come to sell your company or seek investment. Yet surprisingly few companies ask themselves how they measure up against market peers or against the practices of leading IP companies.  As a result, they fail to define their policies and future plans accordingly.

As a start-up business you need to acknowledge that it is imperative to have an IP strategy from the outset and this should be revised in line with the evolving business strategy. It will provide a framework for commercial decisions, help identify areas of risk and help to define ways to gain more business, ultimately increasing the value of your business. A fully developed IP strategy will record the strategic aim behind the business’s intangibles and how best to protect them.

One word of warning: Laura stressed that it is a common misconception that just because you pay someone to create something for you that you will own the rights to it. You must pay additional consideration for them to assign the IP rights to you and this must be done in writing.

Laurence Pearce, CEO of xim, Catalyst Centre tenant, commented: “The intellectual property workshop was particularly helpful for us at xim, as over the past couple of weeks we have been discussing our intellectual property. The very same afternoon we met with our IP solicitors so the seminar helped frame our conversation for the meeting.” He stressed the importance of IP for xim whilst they are emerging into the market.

Simon Wickes, CEO of Cynaptic added: “Laura’s expertise has proved invaluable in understanding Cynaptic’s IP exposure and how best to protect all facets of generated IP. In particular, it helped us understand the complexities around published IP, ownership and copyright.”

Laura Trapnell, Senior Associate of Paris Smith said: “I always enjoy giving the workshop at the Catalyst Centre – I find the tenants are always engaged, keen to learn and happy to discuss pertinent issues. They are focused on the importance of protecting their intellectual property and it is always pleasing to watch them grow and succeed over the coming year.”

We would like to thank both Laura and Abigail for taking time out from their busy schedule and for sharing their pearls of wisdom. To find out more about Paris Smith, head to their website: www.parissmith.co.uk.

In our next blog, we pose the ten questions you need to be asking about IP in your business.