What does the phrase intellectual property (IP) mean to you?
To some, it conjures up images of wacky inventors (Professor Pat Pending types) creating time machines in their garages. Others see it as a way of keeping their innovation and creativity away from the hands of thieves and copycats.
I understand both points of view, but let me offer a third. For me IP, or rather IP rights, are the catalyst that converts great ideas into business success.
From ideas to growth
IP intensive industries, such as pharmaceutical or technology companies, generate over 1/4 of UK employment and almost 40% of GDP. Businesses operating in these fields are at the top of their game when it comes to protecting and exploiting IP assets. But they’re not the only ones who have that capability.
IP equals business value
Did you know that the IP in your business could potentially account for 70% of its value? In the UK we invest far more in intangible assets like IP than we do in physical things. And businesses who invest in their IP are three times less likely to fail? Now that’s impressive.
IP is important to every business
Everyone from mobile hairdressers to graphic designers and online retailers will own or use some form of IP. The best consider it an integral part of their business plan. Coming from a small business background, I personally know how important it is to make the most of every opportunity.
In years gone by, all you may have needed was a shop unit on a local high street and business would have flourished. But today’s complex consumer culture means it’s common to find that having the right look or being trendy can be just as important than what you do.
What’s more, our growing reliance on technology and the digital market makes a web presence a vital aspect of any business. Trading online, the possibilities are endless – new markets, new opportunities and wider sales platforms – but the stakes are inevitably higher.
Managing your IP is important
Your identity, reputation and your future growth, are all determined by how well you manage your brand and other intangible business assets. In other words, how well you manage your IP.
Boosting small business
Everyone has the ability to take a seed of inspiration and nurture it into a deep-rooted evergreen, if they manage their IP assets effectively. And that’s where we come in.
The mission of the Intellectual Property Office
The Intellectual Property Office’s (IPO) mission is simple: to make life better by supporting UK creativity and innovation in companies of all shapes, sizes and sectors. I’m proud of the work we do to help small businesses translates their ideas to growth.
From pushing forward new policies protecting the rights of our home-grown industry to offering invaluable IP support to businesses, the IPO strives to deliver a service that works for you:
- Need someone to discuss your IP problems or questions with? The IPO runs regular clinics with the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) for those needing advice on patents, trade marks and designs.
- Looking for professional IP advice in your local area? The UK’s 15 patent libraries (PatLibs) offer practical help from qualified and experienced staff often trained by the IPO.
- Facing an IP dispute? Going to court can be a lengthy and costly process. Our mediation service is a quicker and cheaper alternative, with most cases reaching an agreement on the day.
Our aim is to shape an IP infrastructure that makes sense to users and creators alike.
IP for Business
Of course, all of this work and the opportunities available are worthless if businesses don’t know that they need to protect their IP. Or if others never response the rights they have.
One of the most important role my team undertakes is education – of children with our Cracking Ideas programme, of university students with our IP Tutor toolkit and of businesses through our IP for Business resources.
And we know that this support and guidance works. Over 70% of those we speak to take action to actively manage their IP. So why not join the thousands of businesses who have benefited from our support and access our free tools on our website.
So now, if I asked again the question ‘what does the phrase intellectual property mean to you?’ would you give me a different response?
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