Intellectual Property Filing Cabinet

[Big Cheese Expertise Guest Post] Hi, my name is Abigail Woolhouse and I’m Head of TMs & Copyright at Strategem IPM. I work with brands of any size to help them protect their intellectual property – that ‘special something’ that is the basis of their business. Here are my top tips to help you protect your IP.

So what is Intellectual Property?

It is a way of defining the result of that brilliant eureka moment a person has which sparks a new product, service, business idea or indeed a recipe.

Once these ideas are recorded on paper, typed into a computer or otherwise recorded, they are then commercial assets which belong, normally, to the person who created the idea.

There are various types of Intellectual Property Rights recognised under law including trade marks, copyright, patents, designs, confidential information and know-how. Knowledge of these rights will enable you to avoid losing control of the results of your hard work in developing your idea from drawing board to the first sale.

1. Know who owns your rights

IP belongs to the original creator unless they are an employee, which means the rights belong to the employer. So if you get a design agency to design a logo or packaging, they will own the copyright of the images until the copyright is assigned (legally transferred) across to you in writing, signed by a designer.

Similar considerations apply if you are collaborating with someone else to develop your product or service – who owns the outcome of the joint work?

2. Document your working relationship to avoid confusion

Remember that the best partnerships can struggle. Always ensure there are written agreements between people from the start covering:

  • How much each person is to contribute
  • Who owns the outcome
  • How much will be paid
  • What happens if someone wants out

Even a basic list of agreed “terms” signed by both parties is better than nothing if you do not want to go to the expense of involving a lawyer. Having such a list can remove any argument if things do go wrong.

3. Keep the detail to yourself

Remember that the best way to stop your idea being taken is to keep it secret.

Consider how much information anyone needs to do the job you are requesting of them.

Do you need to give exact proportions of ingredients or is it enough to name a few key items? Does the other party need to know how something is made, or will they just be happy to see the end product? Adapt your message depending on the audience.

A little knowledge goes a long way and there are useful training videos and information available on the Intellectual Property Office website or follow the IPO on Twitter @The_IPO for links to events and videos.

Special Smoothie PR Offer!

I am offering a FREE half hour chat and discuss how to protect your intellectual property rights or, deal with any other IP issues you may have. You can book a slot by email, call me on 01223 550740 or follow me on Twitter.

More food for thought…

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