Ignoring Intellectual Property is the business owners most deadly sin and not for the reasons you might think!

trunki luggage

Yesterday I attended a breakfast networking event that was put on by the Sussex Chamber of Commerce. I have recently joined the chamber because my business is growing and we are looking at hiring more staff on a permanent basis. I have started and grown my business so far using freelancers working abroad. Given that it can be a minefield if you hire staff without the right paperwork and procedures in place I reached out to an HR consultancy for support who failed to respond. Seredipenditiously, I received a promotional email from Sussex Chamber, so I checked out their website and discovered that as part of the membership pack is a 24/7 HR helpline, insurance covering legal costs in case of a staff dispute and a library of over 500 HR documents.

The first event on their calendar happened to be at East Brighton Golf Club which is a three-minute drive from my front door. Without taking notice of the topic of the presentation after breakfast, I booked myself in. I know from experience that East Brighton Golf Club offer a fantastic full breakfast.

I arrived at 8 am and was warmly welcomed by a Sussex Chamber representative. I engaged in a little networking before breakfast was served and we sat down. After breakfast, the Chamber CEO introduced the speaker and their topic: Intellectual Property. I suddenly felt a wave of apathy wash over me…. IP first thing in the morning…so boring…

I could not have been more wrong.

I am not going to deep dive into IP, but I will share my takeaways.

1) Your brand and inventions can literally be hijacked by a competitor who took the time to register trademarks, designs and patents in your space. Imagine spending painstaking years of your loife building a successful business then someone comes along and legally forces you to pay them any profits you have made, just because you infringed copyright without realising it. Ignorance is no defence and all profits can be claimed retrospectively.

2) Or when you registered a patent for your innovative product, you were too specific opening the door for a me-too business with more marketing resources to come along and eat your lunch. This is exactly what has happened to a company, Trunki, that was made famous by being rejected in the Dragons Den, then achieving sales success with their ride on kiddy luggage range. A Hong Kong company then launched a similar product and started competing. Trunki sued the copy cat Hong Kong company and lost, and now have an uncertain trading future. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-35762610
3) The IP in your corporate image, name, strapline, products, etc. can be securitised. The most often asked question asked by the dragons in the den is, ” Do you own the IP?” They know that in today’s fast moving economy that IP is the value in any business. Think about it, thanks to technology, most things can be copied and manufactured in the blink of an eye, compare to twenty years ago. The one thing that cannot be copied, if protected, is intellectual property.

The crazy thing is, is that it literally costs peanuts to protect the years of dedication that you have put into building your business or that genius idea that is going disrupt the marketplace.

So what I thought was going to be a boring presentation ended up being very interesting and something every business owner should be aware of, especially if they want to raise capital to grow their business.

I strongly recommend that you visit Clive Bonny’s website at http://consult-smp.com/check-invest/ip-asset-review or watch the video below.
There are a range of complimentary resources on the web site as well as a an offer of a free consultation.

In my next blog, I will share a story on how an old friend of mine sued Apple for over $500M for IP infringement. And won, because he protected his company’s IP.


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