Why protect your brand?
After investing considerable time and resources in developing your brand identity, protecting your brand should be a key consideration. The first step is to identify what intellectual property (IP) your business currently owns and what IP it could develop and own in the future. The best way to do this is to have an IP audit completed. An IP audit will also set out recommended next steps to take to robustly protect your IP.
IP that may exist in your business includes:
- trade marks
- design rights
- Know-how/trade secrets.
Protecting this IP will protect you against intellectual property crime and infringement of your brand.
Furthermore, potential partners or buyers, especially licensees, consultants and other interested parties, will be looking for security that your IP is properly registered to you and protected. A well protected and managed brand can increase the value of your company. IP rights are likely to be the most valuable assets of your business.
When you are a start-up or SME, costs for services are always a concern. The good news is that the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) provides funding that can assist – the IP Audit Plus scheme.
SMEs with clear plans for growth are eligible to apply for the scheme. Once an IP audit application is approved, the business is provided with an IP audit award email and can choose an IP professional to carry out the work.
The UK IPO will pay £2,500 (inc. VAT) towards the cost of the audit and make the payment directly to the IP professional on receipt of an approved audit report. The SME contributes a further £500 (inc. VAT) for the audit report, payable directly to the IP professional.
Businesses that have been awarded part-funding for an IP audit can then apply for IP Access funding (£5,000 inc. VAT) once the audit has been completed.
IP Access funding can be used to cover the cost of services related to:
- Applications for trade marks, patents or design rights
- The management of IP assets
- Commercialisation of IP
- Licensing and franchising agreements
- IP insurance
- IP valuation
- Tax relief advice.