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INNOVATION UK161 Miles Rees, business outreach and education manager at the Intellectual Property Office, guides you through protecting your ideas and innovations Protect your profits Your idea When you have an idea and it takes some tangible form, then you need to think about intellectual prop-erty ( IP). Every business owns some form of IP, includ-ing names, logos, products and designs. Protecting IP allows people and businesses to own and profit from their ideas, whatever form they come in - which is a vital investment for businesses wanting to maintain market share and grow their offering in a challenging environment. The Intellectual Property Office ( IPO) offers a raft of initiatives to help businesses realise the benefits that IP awareness can bring and allow them to use it to grow and strengthen their enterprises at this crucial time. We work with businesses in various ways, offering advice and assistance at all stages of development. The first step is to identify the type of IP protection that is right for your business. It is a common misconception that IP relates only to inventors and registering patents for new products, and as a consequence, many people are unaware of the profit and benefits that can come from registering trade marks, designs and copyrights. There are also several myths surrounding intellectual property protection - that it is expensive, takes years and acts only as a badge or certification of something you've produced. The reality is hugely different; pro-tecting your creations is vital, and will prevent anybody else claiming credit, or more importantly, profiting from your ideas and products. As for cost and time, many types of intellectual property measures are very cost effec-tive, and there are options for accelerating applications and achieving pending status even if the registration is not yet complete. Identifying what IP asets you have Once you have your idea, the first step is to take advantage and make full use of the online Healthcheck tool on the IPO website. This free service, available at www. ipo. gov. uk/ iphealthcheck, has been designed to help business owners understand IP and find out how to protect their ideas and creations to drive their business forward. Users are offered advice on identify-ing, protecting and commercially exploiting IP. It also allows users to learn more about the different types of IP: trade marks, copyright works, patents, designs and design rights. Business Solutions Intellectual property office

162INNOVATION UKINNOVATION Types of IP Trade Marks A trade mark is a sign that distinguishes the goods and services on one undertaking from all the others. It pro-vides a guarantee that the goods and/ or services are from a single undertaking, that is, that they belong to you. Most trade marks consist of words and/ or logos but trade- mark legislation allows for any sign to be registered. Applications for trade marks can be made either electron-ically or on paper. In both cases, an official form must be completed. You must ensure that you apply for the cor-rect mark because once the form has been completed it can not be amended. The official fee is £ 200, which covers the application from one class of goods and/ or services plus £ 50 for each additional class. Assistance is on hand for appli-cants who have any queries regarding any aspect of the application form. From 1 October 2009, new reduced charges and ini-tiatives will be coming into practice which will help busi-nesses obtain trade marks quickly and at a lower cost. These initiatives include the " right start" service, where you can defer half the £ 200 payment until after the appli-cation has been approved, and a £ 30 reduction for those who file for a trade mark online. Once the official form has been received, the examina-tion of trade mark applications normally takes three or four weeks to complete. If no objection is raised to your application it will be accepted. However, if objections are raised, these will be explained and the examiner will, wherever possible, suggest ways of over-coming them. You may contact the examiner by post, telephone, fax or e- mail and discuss any objections raised. All applications, when deemed acceptable, will be advertised in the Trade Marks Journal. Once advertised, they are open to opposi-tion by a third party for a period of up to three months. If no opposition is raised then formal registration will follow within a few weeks and you will receive your registration certificate. It is important to note that of all applications filed, 95% proceed to advertisement and of those, only 5% are opposed. Additionally, many such oppositions are settled amicably by the parties involved. It is worth noting that the fee provides trade- mark pro-tection for a period of 10 years. Renewal for a further 10 years is granted automatically, on application, for the same fee. There is no limit to the number of renewals that may be made as there is no limit to the period of registration. In fact, trade mark No 1 is still valid as it has been consistently renewed, ever since registration was first granted. Finally, remember that if you wish to acquire trade mark rights in several European countries, you may prefer to file for a Community Trade Mark. This is more expensive, but it does provide registered rights throughout Europe. Patents Patents protect the features and processes that make things work. This lets inventors profit from their inventions. A patent gives you the right to stop others from copy-ing, manufacturing, selling, and importing your invention without your permission. The existence of your patent may be enough on its own to stop others from trying to exploit your invention. If it does not, it gives you the right to take legal action to stop them exploiting your invention and also to claim damages. The patent also allows you to: » Sell the invention and all the intellectual property rights » License the invention to someone else but retain all the intellectual property rights » Discuss the invention with others in order to set up a business based around the invention. You can ask the Intellectual Property Office to do a patent search for you for a charge. This option may useful if you need comprehensive search results to help make a decision on whether or not to pursue an application. The cost of filing a UK patent is £ 200, made up of £ 30 for a preliminary examination, a £ 100 search fee and £ 70 for a substantial examination fee. As with trade marks, assistance is on hand for applicants who have any queries about the application form. Applications for patents can be made either electronically or on paper and on average take around two years to be granted. The maxi-mum period for the process is four and a half years. If a patent is granted, it must be renewed every year after the fifth year with an annual renewal fee. In most cases, you will be able to renew your patent for a maxi-mum period of 20 years. INNOVATION UK162Business Solutions Intellectual property office