The latest round in the on-going battle between Apple and Samsung over intellectual property has started with the news that the companies will again be returning to the courts. This news follows not long after reports that the Rockstar Consortium is suing Google, Samsung, HTC and others over alleged patent infringements.

I’m not proposing to talk about those cases in any detail in this post; rather I have highlighted them as examples of the importance of protecting intellectual property and the potential for disputes. Obviously these disputes are at the very upper end of the scale but no matter the size of your business it is worth taking the time to consider and deal with your intellectual property. Here are five top tips to get you started:-

  1. Be clear on what intellectual property your business currently has. To a large extent, this will depend upon the nature of the business but as a starting point you should consider patents, trademarks, copyright and design rights. If you’re not sure where to start, then it is worth looking at the Intellectual Property Office’s website as it contains lots of useful information and summaries.
  2. Take professional advice at an early stage. Engaging with the right people at the start is vital to ensuring that your IP is properly protected. Taking a short cut here could mean that your intellectual property is not as well protected as you think.
  3. Employees and consultants. To avoid any doubt as to the ownership of intellectual property created by an employee or a consultant, ensure that the relevant employment contract/consultancy agreement contains suitable wording on this area.
  4. Confidentiality. Don’t disclose the details of any intellectual property owned by your business to a third party without having them enter into a suitable non-disclosure agreement.
  5. Carry out regular intellectual property audits. Following the steps above will start your business off on the right footing, but that good work will be undone if you don’t continue to monitor your business’ intellectual property. In addition to dealing with intellectual property that your business has, an audit might flag up potential infringements of someone else’s intellectual property which could prove costly.
Catriona Heggie
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