Start-ups and SMEs need to carefully consider intellectual property

Essex-based law firm Palmers Solicitors is urging small firms and start-ups to take care when developing services and products to avoid breaching intellectual property (IP) of other businesses.

In recent months a number of small firms have been caught out after failing to check whether products they are creating or new services they have named breach the IP rights of other companies.

Accordingly, it would be sensible to carry out proper checks in advance of launching any new product or service to avoid landing in serious trouble, which often involves being asked to rebrand or worse still to remove their product from the market by their competitor under threat of being sued and forced to pay substantial damages.

The UK has seen a boom in the number of start-ups and micro-businesses since the recession, especially in the field of technology and engineering. BJ Chong, Partner at Palmers, said: “Imagine you had spent millions of pounds and many man hours developing and marketing a product. You would obviously not want someone else to potentially damage or piggy back off your reputation.

“This is why so many actions have been taken against small firms recently, even in cases where they innocently thought they had an original idea or product. Small business owners need to seek advice when investing time and money into a new idea.”

Palmers will be able to carry out a full background check and search for registered trademarks and patents, while also conducting research among competitors to see if they have any identical or similar IP rights registered.

“Conversely, once you have an established business, it is important to protect your own intellectual property by ensuring that the brand is registered as a trade mark where it can be or that a patent has been applied for if the idea involves a new product or process,” stated BJ.

“After these are in place, it is important to make regular checks of your industry sector to ensure your own IP is not being breached. Being vigilant and always checking is key to ensuring that you and your business are protected.”

If you would like assistance with any intellectual property issues, please contact us.