7 Aug 2016
This site offers advice and information on intellectual property("IP") to startups and other small businesses. I hope it will be useful to those who want to set themselves up in business such as artists, craftsmen and women, designers, inventors and anyone else with a good idea for a business as well as those already in business
IP is the collective name for the bundle of rights that protect investment in branding, design, technology and works of art and literature. Examples include patents, trade marks, copyrights and registered designs. These rights are very valuable and can be at least as important to small businesses as they are to multinationals but very little advice and information is offered to small businesses because this area of the law is quite complicated. Not every solicitor, accountant or other business adviser is familiar or up to date with the topic. Consequently, advice and assistance in this area of law can be expensive. For example, it can cost anything up to £5,000 to apply for a patent for the UK alone and IP litigation can cost many tens (if not hundreds of thousands) of pounds.
Consequently, many entrepreneurs ignore IP often with disastrous results. Patents and other IP rights are blatantly infringed because the rights owner cannot afford to take the wrongdoer to court. If the rights owner does sue, he may be faced with an application tor security for costs (that is to say, a guarantee to pay the other side's costs if the claim fails) which can stop an action in its tracks. Sometimes a competitor applies for revocation of a patent or invalidation of some other IP right which the inventor lacks the means to resist. Occasionally an entrepreneur is sued or even prosecuted for infringing someone else's right.
Happily things are changing. I have been running pro bono clinics in various parts of the country for years. So, too, have some of the Business and IP Centres and other libraries in co-operation with local patent or trade mark attorneys. It is now possible to sue for an injunction and up to £10,000 damages in the small claims track of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court in most IP cases. The Intellectual Property Office ("IPO") will deliver an opinion on whether a patent is valid or whether it has been infringed for £200.
I have been blogging and speaking about these matters for many years but they have not been widely noted. By concentrating everything in these pages I hope they will find a wider audience.