Once you have come up with an idea for a new business, it’s important to think about protecting any original aspects of your concept that could prove invaluable to its success. This is known as your intellectual property. The main reason for guarding this is to prevent others from using your key business ideas without your permission. Failing to protect the intellectual property of your business can mean that ideas vital to your product or service could be used by competitors, and this could severely affect the performance of your company in the future.
Your intellectual property could be rooted in your product, which may contain a feature that makes it different from other similar products and vital to its appeal to your customers. This may also be the case for a particular service. You may also want to make sure no other company uses the original name or brand of your specific product or service. The UK Intellectual Property Office can help you to identify the key elements of your business that you may need to protect, from trademarks to designs and processes.
It will also provide advice on how best to go about doing this, such as applying for a patent or copyright. Protecting your intellectual property is also vital from an investment perspective. When starting up and as your business develops, you are likely to need financial backing to help your company grow. This could be for anything from boosting cash flow to taking on new staff and moving to new premises.
Any investor, whether a bank or private equity company, will carefully examine your business before lending any money, to make sure that the business is sound and that their investment will be safe. During this ‘due diligence’ process, if an investor discovers that you have not adequately protected your intellectual property, they are unlikely to provide the required financial support. This is because, not only does this open your business to outside competition and therefore risk.
Further down the line when you come to selling your business, your intellectual property can have a significant influence on its value, as well as its appeal to prospective buyers. So, as you develop the idea for your business towards a possible launch, it’s important to bear in mind any potentially valuable intellectual property that you may need to protect