All businesses own potentially valuable Intellectual Property (IP) rights, although many do not realise this.
IP rights include:
- trade marks, which are a signs or symbols used by a trader to distinguish its products or services from those of other traders. A trade mark eligible for registration is enforceable throughout the country in which it is registered. It can be used to stop third parties taking advantage of that brand. Even if a trade mark is not registered, unregistered trade mark rights can potentially be used to protect the goodwill and reputation in a name or brand, through passing off rights;
- rights in designs, which protect the appearance of the whole or part of a product. A registered design provides a legal monopoly in the country or countries of registration. Unregistered design rights give the owner a right to prevent copying;
- copyright, which protects original artistic, musical, dramatic and literary works, including computer programs, sound recordings, films, broadcasts and typographical arrangements of published works. Copyright arises automatically on the creation of the work;
- rights to protect confidential information can be used to prevent the misuse of information valuable to a business, such as know-how, trade secrets and customer information; and
- patent rights, which provide inventors with a legally protectable monopoly over their inventions and can be used to protect new and inventive technical features of products and processes.
You may already be aware of the IP rights within your business or may hold some of the above rights unknowingly.
It may be useful to identify all of your IP rights as they are assets which could be of considerable value and be acceptable to lenders as security for loans/overdraft facilities, in much the same way as physical property.
There are a number of ways to go about valuing IP rights, ranging from using online tools to engaging specialist accountants to carry out forensic analysis.We would be happy to provide further information about the options available depending on the relevant business context.
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, many businesses are facing cash flow issues, meaning that borrowing against any IP held may be worth considering as a solution.
If you wish to discuss any IP rights your business may hold and/or the possibility of using these as security, then please get in touch with a member of our IP team who will be happy to assist.
Disclaimer: Anything posted on this blog is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any general or specific matter. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further information. Please contact the author of the blog if you would like to discuss the issues raised.