Welcome to our second #SummerScaleUp blog. This week we hear from Jason Ojukwu with his insight into the world of IP – essential to any creative business hoping to scale up. 

Intellectual Property – Introduction

?Successful creative businesses, whether large or small, are built on the efficient and productive use of intangible assets or Intellectual Property (IP). Papa John’s have used their IP to establish franchises across the globe, while Apple Inc. has an exhaustive trademark list that protects their current and potential markets.

For companies such as Apple, Coca-Cola, Aston Martin, Skull Candy and Laura Ashley much of their value comes from their IP portfolio. Whether it’s ownership of a trademark, patent, design, copyright or trade secret, they outweigh the nominal value of their physical assets.

Intellectual Property – The Basics

IP resembles air. The assets cannot be seen or touched, but when a creative entrepreneur or organisation ceases to produce IP it can cause organisational asphyxiation. Gathering a basic understanding of the law and its principles in the protection of IP should be the primary step before launching a creative business.

Intellectual Property is a form of protection that gives the originator/owner the ability to take legal action under civil law to try and stop others from making, using, importing or selling their creation. In short, it provides the means to pursue IP thieves, intelligently collaborate with other creatives and organisations and allows you to access the money you deserve for your creative endeavours.

There are four different types of Intellectual Property rights:

1) Patents – protect new inventions and cover how products work, what they do, how they do it,  what they are made of and how they are made. The key here is that it has to be a novel process that was not there before. Think you’ve invented something? Check out Espacenet to see current patents around the world.

2) Design – protects the overall visual appearance of a product. This can fall under copyright automatically but stronger protection can be achieved with a formal registration of the design through the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

3) Trademarks – protect established or newly created brands. This could be for a business name, a product or a service. Marks can be fictional words (SockBricks, Predifish, etc.), logos or a combination of both, and can even be sound or action based. Trademarks I have registered include UP Furniture – a furniture design agency looking to attract new designers and produce their work under the UP Furniture label and Agese Oils, a producer of luxury blended natural skin oils. Check out potential trademarks through the IPO’s Trademark Search service.

4) Copyright  – protects books, art, music, websites, photographs, software, databases, films and print, radio and television broadcasts and promotional material. This is the simplest form of IP to create. Pick up a pen, write or draw something, and voila you have copyright! Why? Because copyright is automatic.

Outside of the main four, there is also:

Trade secrets which may form an important part of your business. The law of confidentiality protects trade secrets. To keep trade secrets protected, you must establish that the information is confidential and ensure that anyone you tell about it signs a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

Jason Ojukwu
Jason is a London-based business advisor, with practical experience in aiding creative entrepreneurs in sourcing grants, loans and financing options. He specialises in identifying intellectual property capital, licensing and simplifying financial management for creative individuals from the digital media & online gaming sectors. Aside, from directly advising creative entrepreneurs Jason has provided strategic enterprise support to the University of East London, London South Bank University and the Royal British Legion.

Keep an eye out for next week’s blog and if you are feeling inspired, why not start an application and let us help your business to grow.