Common I.P mistakes made by a business
Written by Harry Jeffries on 01 April 2013« Return to Reading Room
It is recognised that a recently formed company will incur some initial difficulties when striving to build the reputation of their business, often however, the mistakes made are easily avoidable.
The first mistake often made by a new company is a failure to carry out a trade mark search before choosing a business name. For a start up business choosing the company name or slogan is exciting and although many new businesses believe they have thought up an innovative name which is certain to attract customers, it is often the case that this particular name is the creation of somebody else, meaning another business already obtains the registered trade mark.
If there is a failure by the new business to perform a search to ascertain which trade marks are already in use, it allows for the possibility of a business to go ahead and trade under a name which is already a registered trade mark which then results in the business having to be forced to make a name change months, or potentially years later. In such a situation, the efforts of building a strong brand image go to waste and even worse, there is a strong possibility that a business could be sued for damages due to trade mark infringement.
Another mistake often made is the failure to actually register a business name as a trade mark. (It should be noted that not all business names can be registered as a trade mark i.e. if the name is too descriptive of the goods or services provided, trademark registration will fail). Despite this, if permissible, there are definite benefits of registering a trade mark for a business name. One of these benefits is a virtual monopoly in the business name for the goods or services the trademark is registered for (within a defined territory).
It is often the case that a start up company will fail to conduct a patent search before developing, branding and launching their product. There is the risk that considerable time and expense will be wasted if a business later discovers that their new product or process is already protected by a third party. Just a simple patent search can remove the threat of being sued for patent infringement.
It is also tempting for a company to promote a future product on their respective website, or even go as far as selling this product. Doing so would amount to ‘non-confidential disclosure’ (in relation to patents) and with the rules in the UK/EU being so strict, it is clear that an application for a patent must be filed before any non-confidential disclosure of an invention takes place. In summary, it is crucial to file a patent application for a new invention before disclosing any information. Failure to do so creates the risk of losing the chance to obtain protection.
Finally, if your company is one which commissions works to be created by third parties, it is important that the ownership rights in the commissioned work are signed over to your company once the work is completed. The problem which often occurs is that when a business pays someone to design the logo for their new company, the person who designs this logo will own the copyright in the logo and may use it elsewhere. This issue can be eradicated by ensuring the copyright in a commissioned work is assigned by the person creating the work to the person commissioning the work.
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