As any entrepreneur knows full well, a business’ real value is what it can sell. Ideas, great. Innovative products or services, great. But unless they’re legally protected, they’re essentially worthless. Our lawyers have experience of working with some of the biggest brands, helping them protect their intellectual assets including Big Yellow which owns Caterpillar on trade mark protection and Pfizer on the launch of viagra and trade mark and brand protection.
So whether you’re a start-up, an established or fast-growth business, you need to assess your intellectual property, and protect it. Here’s a case we’ve worked on that illustrates perfectly the issues that can arise if you don’t do this. Do any apply to your business?
The senior employee who left with the customer list
A printing industry client had developed a specialist process after several years of research and development. The investment was just beginning to pay off. Then they heard one of their employees, supposedly on sick leave, was setting up a competitor business, using all their know-how – and their customer list. They realised – too late – they should have taken advice to protect the business’ IP. Luckily, we could use the restrictive covenants in the employee’s contract to stop him trading for long enough to retain our client’s customers.
Literally, a case in point. But there are other things to consider. For example, you might already be infringing someone else’s IP unknowingly, because they’ve protected it. This could seriously damage your chances of expanding your business. You may not be able to sell overseas if another company already owns the idea. Or if you already have been selling overseas, you may be liable for compensation for infringing their rights.