IP strategy is the body of planned measures a business adopts, in order to use intellectual property (IP) to secure business advantage over its competitors.
To have a good IP strategy is to be active, and have the opportunity to leverage good IP outcomes. To have a weak IP strategy, or no IP strategy, can leave a business as the passive victim of events.
An IP strategy has to fit your business. It must take account of the market you work in, your competitors, your budget, and your overall corporate strategy. A young company working to develop a portfolio of patents or trade marks cost-effectively needs a completely different IP strategy from a market leader using IP to retain its position, or a university looking to develop a licensing income from its innovations.
We have an exceptionally strong team of IP professions – IP solicitors, patent attorneys, trade mark attorneys and design and copyright experts. Whatever your business we have the legal expertise and the business skills to understand it and to help you develop an IP strategy which fits your people, resources and overall corporate strategy:
Our specialist intellectual property solicitors, trade mark and patent attorneys are highly experienced in transaction work, including corporate mergers, acquisitions, licensing deals, divestitures, insolvency and restructuring. We carry out transaction work for quoted blue-chip companies but are equally at home working with start-up businesses and academic institutions.
Excellent work in this field goes beyond handling negotiations and agreement drafting efficiently. It includes doing thorough groundwork in anticipation of the transaction, to support informed decisions. This may entail, for example conducting a financial valuation of a target business; “landscaping” the entire business area or making an assessment of the strength of patents or trade marks underlying an acquisition, merger or licensing deal.
Our solicitors and attorneys are strong in the negotiation and agreement drafting phase of transaction work but also in the preparation phase – often the key to a really satisfactory outcome.
This is an all-encompassing term used to describe the process of ensuring that information regarding your portfolio (or a competitor’s) is complete and up to date, so that risks and opportunities can be assessed. Due diligence can involve e.g. matching your patents to your products for licensing or Patent Box purposes, providing status information on a competitor’s trade mark portfolio across many countries or mapping patents/applications to a technical standard.
Often, a due diligence process is the first step in performing a Freedom to Operate (FTO) analysis (see below).
FTO is carried out to identify risks associated with the launch of a new product or process and see if they can be reduced or worked around. The risks can come from competitors’ patents, designs and/or trade marks. However FTO is frequently inadequate, and sometimes non-existent. The downsides of going ahead without giving adequate thought to FTO can be high. For example a new product may have to be withdrawn from market; or a financial investment in new technology may fail.
Our attorneys are highly experienced in conducting FTO work which is efficient, business-focussed and proportionate to the risk being assessed.
We find that the best business decisions in relation to intellectual property (IP) are usually taken by our clients who have the best information.
To gather the best information we have many different types of searches at our disposal. Examples include searches to determine whether patents, trade mark or designs have been kept in force, searches to assess whether an invention, trade mark or design is protectable, infringement clearance searches to determine whether new products or brand names can be safely launched, and competitor searches to assess the direction your competitors are taking; and many more.
If inadequate searching is carried out and a problem emerges the cost of escaping from it may be far higher than the cost of any search. We carry out high quality searching which will give our clients reliable results. However as experienced attorneys we understand that searching can go too far and be wasteful – there is a law of diminishing returns at work. We always discuss the requirements with our clients and aim for an optimum of confidence level and cost.
Keeping a careful eye on the IP activities of your competitors not only gives you an early warning if they are moving into new commercial or technical areas, it can give you a chance, in some cases, to challenge trade mark or patent applications before they pose a risk to your business. We can provide a range of reports detailing activities of certain key competitors or all companies within a defined commercial sector or technology, so that you can take early action to prepare your business accordingly.
Such reports can be prepared on an ad-hoc basis, perhaps if you are considering branching out and want to know what the IP landscape is like in the new area, or we can provide regular watches according to your specification.
Valuing IP, for the purposes of disposal, acquisition, licensing or for Patent Box purposes can be a complex procedure. We have experts in this area who can work with you to value your IP using rigorous industry-standard models.
Our highly dedicated and experienced team of attorneys combine a broad range of legal and technical expertise with real-world commercial insight.
If you are in the business of developing technology, we can help you protect and patent your innovation.Learn more
We can help you protect your product’s identity, identify the rights you own, maximise their value to your business and carry your unique message to the market.Learn more
Designs and copyright are powerful and all-pervasive legal rights. We can help you protect both.Learn more
We are experts in IP disputes, using all forms of specialist dispute resolution on a national and global level.Learn more
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