How can we help?
Developing an IP strategy
We can help you to harness the full potential of your IP and develop a strategy to make the most of it. There is little value in registering patents, designs, or trade marks for their own sake. So, we’ll work with you to make sure that any IP protection you secure (or wish to acquire) supports your business plan and will help to maximise your company’s market value. It’s worth remembering that a robust IP strategy can help you improve your valuation if you exit the market or want to make your business more attractive to a potential investor.
When it comes to IP you also need to consider your competitors and others working in the sector. We can help you identify and understand any potential risks posed by the IP of a third party so you can address them in the most appropriate and commercially savvy way.
An effective IP strategy needs to be nurtured and managed to be truly effective. So, you’ll need to think about allocating budgets; procedures for identifying IP; and deciding if, when and what to register. Any contracts or agreements you enter into will need the necessary IP clauses and provisions, too. There’s a lot to consider, so having the support of experienced patent attorneys, like GJE, can give you greater security and peace of mind.
Identify what IP you have
Companies who are exploring IP for the first time often ask two key questions: Do I have anything that can be protected? And, is IP protection right for my business?
The answers depend on a number of factors, which we’ll explore by understanding your business, and how you use technology and branding to generate income. As patent and trade mark attorneys, we can advise you on the aspects of your business that you should protect and in which countries, in order to help you achieve your business aims.Find out more
Assess the existing IP strategy
If you are an established company you may already have an IP portfolio. We work with many businesses like this who wonder if their IP is still fit for purpose. It’s an important question, not just from the point of view of protecting your assets, but also for current or potential investors who want to ensure that a company’s unique offering can be defended. The question may also be raised during due diligence as part of an acquisition process. If you’ve not reviewed your IP for a while, we can come alongside you to assess your existing portfolio and the IP strategy that underpins it. Once we know what you’ve got in place and how that supports your wider business plans, we can advise on the best way to strengthen or rationalise your portfolio. There may be opportunities to expand or streamline costs by focusing on the IP rights that are most important and valuable to your company.Find out more
Assess your appetite for risk
If your business is reliant on your brand or technology, IP risks are par of the course. Competitors and other businesses will inevitably own IP rights that might overlap with your activities. Sometimes you will know about these third-party IP rights, and sometimes they’ll come as a surprise. We can help you to understand your IP risks, how the risk can be quantified, and your options for risk mitigation.Find out more
Intellectual property FAQ’s
Do you offer free consultations?
We can offer a complimentary initial discussion with one of our experts to explore your new idea. After the discussion, we’ll then advise you on whether we can help you progress your idea and the next steps we need to take.
Can I patent my invention?
If it is new and inventive then maybe. Get in touch and we’ll explore this question with you.
I need help identifying and protecting my IP, where do I start?
Get in touch, so we can better understand your situation and how we may be able to help.
How much does it cost to obtain a patent?
To answer this question, we need to know more about your invention, the reason for filing a patent, where you are seeking protection and the existing technological landscape.
How long does it take to obtain a patent?
This depends on several factors including where the patent application is filed, whether action is taken to accelerate it, and the nature of any objections raised by the patent office. Most applications will take in the region of 3-6 years, but this will depend on many considerations.
Who do I speak to about my patent question?
If you are new to GJE, please pop your question in the contact form below and we’ll get the right person to look at it. Alternatively, you can browse the sector-specific and people sections of our website to get in touch with one of us directly.
Can you assist us with infringement proceedings before the courts?
We have experience in supporting litigation in the UK and abroad, working with top quality IP counsel.
When should I get in touch with you regarding my new idea?
The best time is typically once the idea has been sufficiently developed so that you understand how to implement it (turn it into a reality) but before it has been publicly disclosed (communicated to others outside of any expressed or implied confidentiality). It is vital that any patent application you decide to pursue is filed before you disclose your idea in a non-confidential manner.
How do I get a trade mark? Do I need a trade mark attorney?
From starting an application to having a trade mark granted, the registration process can take four to six months in the UK. Anyone can search existing trade marks and file their own. It’s worth noting that that an initial search involves complex analysis to weigh up risks of potential conflicts, and the superficial simplicity of the trade mark filing process makes it easy to make mistakes that could leave the mark vulnerable to invalidation, or at least restrict its scope of protection. This is where a trade mark attorney will come into their own – and quite possibly save you a lot of money in the long run. A good trade mark attorney will help you identify and avoid potential conflicts and ensure that your trade mark protection is properly aligned to your long-term business strategy, taking into account possible expansion into new geographic markets or product categories.
What is a trade mark?
While a patent protects technology, a trade mark protects identity, as a distinctive guarantor of trade origin. In other words, a trade mark is a recognisable name, design, or expression that identifies a product or service marketed by a company and distinguishes it from products or services marketed by other companies. It could consist of a word, personal name, slogan, logo or even an animation, colour, or the shape of the goods or their packaging. As much as it’s crucial to develop a recognisable identity, it’s just as important to protect that identity appropriately to maximise its benefit. It’s important to note that simply buying a domain or registering a company name with Companies House doesn’t give you enforceable rights. A Companies House registration merely identifies a legal entity; rights arise only through the use of that name.
Am I free to use my trade mark?
There are 45 ‘classes’ relating to different goods and services. You register a trade mark within the classes relevant to your business. If another company has a trade mark identical or similar to yours for identical or similar goods or services, it will pose an infringement risk to your use and would be grounds to oppose any application that you file. Trade marks are not universal. Ownership of a mark in the UK, for instance, doesn’t entitle you to use or register it in other countries. If international expansion is part of your business strategy, you need to consider that when developing your brand. You’ll need to consider whether the relevant marks are available in the relevant classes in the markets you will be targeting. It might take longer to settle on a brand, but the extra effort will be worth it if you avoid having to change your brand wholesale, or wasting time and money building up recognition and trust of completely new brands. Finally, it’s not just registered marks you have to look out for. The UK and many other countries recognise unregistered rights in a mark arising through use. These unregistered rights can form the basis of a challenge to your use or application for registration.
Why do I need to register my trade mark?
There are three primary reasons to register a trade mark. First, registered trade marks have value in and of themselves, and can be attractive to investors – they can be an asset against which funds can be secured. In some cases, when a brand-led business is sold without any tangible assets such as property or inventory, trade marks may be the only store of value. Second, in those countries where unregistered rights are not recognised, it can be very difficult, or even impossible, to take action against a third party using, or trying to register, a mark that conflicts with you own. Finally, trade marks can help protect your brand, and your bottom line, from counterfeiting and black market trade. Registered trade marks can be recorded with customs authorities to enable suspect goods to be seized at the border.
Why do I need to search for existing trade marks?
Getting caught out can be costly. There are the legal costs you’ll incur defending yourself, penalties if you are found liable for infringing someone else’s rights, and the possibility of an injunction, not to mention damages or settlement costs. Then there’s the wasted expense of a brand that can’t be used, a possible product recall, the cost of creating a new brand, the potential loss of revenue if you are unable to operate in a specific market, negative publicity, and the loss of customer recognition as a result of having to change your brand.
Do I need a trade mark filing strategy?
In short: absolutely! A sound trade mark strategy, which involves knowing what you are going to need to protect, when and where you will be applying for that protection, and how having that protection will support your growth, is like the solid foundations for a house. It’s all about giving your company security and ensuring you can make smooth progress through the vital early stages of your growth. It will help you avoid any pitfalls such as costly rebrands or legal challenges at a point where they could sink you completely. And ultimately, getting brand protection right will safeguard your valuation when it comes to securing investment or seeking an exit. Research has repeatedly shown that as much as 70 per cent of the value of a company is attached to its brand rather than its tangible assets. When Nestle acquired the Rowntree business in 1988, for example, net assets accounted for just £300 million, most of the £2.55 billion price tag was in the earning potential of Rowntree’s popular brands, such as Kit Kat, Polo, and After Eight. Your brand is valuable because it’s the public face of your company. It creates associations and loyalty for consumers, who will pay a premium for a product from a company they know and trust.
Brexit - what does it mean for trade marks?
The UK has now left the EU, following a transition period that ended on 31 December 2020. This means that EU Trade Marks (EUTMs) and Registered Community Designs (RCDs) no longer offer protection in the UK. With regard to granted EUTMs, designations of EUTMs under the International registration system, RCDs and Hague designs designating the EUIPO, provided those were granted/registered as at 31 December 2020, the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has created comparable rights on to the UK register allowing the protection to continue in the UK. Renewal fees for those newly created UK rights must be paid separately to retain protection. For those EUTMs and RCD applications that had been filed by 31 December 2020 and had not yet granted/registered it was possible for the owners to file a corresponding UK application by 30 September 2021 thereby retaining the filing or priority date of the EUTM or RCD application. Any corresponding UK application that is filed now will be given the date of actual filing. For any new EUTM or RCD application filed from 1 January 2021 onwards, a separate UK application must be filed in order to obtain protection in the UK. We have developed cost-effective filing packages to protect your business across both markets and are on hand to identify the strategy appropriate to your business.
How should I use my trade mark?
Trade marks should always be used as adjectives, not as nouns or verbs – to cite a classic example, “a Hoover vacuum cleaner” rather than “a Hoover” or “Hoovering”. Using a trade mark as a noun or verb can – as in the case of Hoover – lead over time to it becoming a generic term, rather than being a label of origin. If a trade mark becomes generic in this way, it becomes increasingly difficult to enforce registered rights against third parties and the mark may eventually be removed from the register following a challenge from a third party. Once your trade mark is registered, use the ® symbol. Before the registration is confirmed, or if you don’t have one, use the symbol ™. This alerts people to your rights and can serve as a warning that those rights will be enforced against inappropriate use.
What types of product can be protected with registered designs?
Pretty much any type of product, or even parts of products, can be protected with a registered design. In many countries, this includes not only 3D articles, but also 2D designs like graphical user interfaces and logos.
When should I seek advice on protecting my design?
You should seek advice before your design has been publicly disclosed (communicated to others outside of any expressed or implied confidentiality), or as soon as possible if it has already been disclosed.
Can I still obtain registered design protection if I have already disclosed my product?
Maybe, but you should act fast. Some territories allow you to register a design after it has been disclosed. This includes the UK and Europe, which provide a 12-month period from the first disclosure within which you may still register a design.
How do I register a design?
To register a design, you need to file a design application with an Intellectual Property Office (IPO). The speed of the process varies from country to country. Some IPOs, including the UKIPO and the EUIPO, do not conduct a substantive examination of design applications and so the design may be registered in a matter of days or weeks. Other IPOs, such as the USPTO, conduct a more thorough examination and hence the process can take between one and two years.
Who owns a design?
While the rights to the design will always originate from the person who created the design, depending on the country, those rights (and hence ownership of the design) may well be automatically transferred elsewhere. For example, in the UK, a design created by an employee will typically be owned automatically by their employer. It is particularly important to ensure that, where multiple parties are involved, there is a contract in place which makes clear who will own the resulting IP (including designs).
Do I need an attorney to file my registered design application?
There’s no legal requirement to have an attorney prepare and file your applications, but going it alone is risky. Despite their apparent simplicity, design applications are easy to get wrong, for example by filing drawings which inadvertently limit the scope of protection which you hoped to obtain. This can have significant consequences for your business strategy. The long-term cost of an error could significantly outweigh the up-front cost of engaging an attorney. In the UK, registered patent attorneys and trade mark attorneys are also qualified to advise on designs and will be able to help get the right design protection for you.
Do I need a strategy for protecting my designs?
If your business involves creating products which have value in their appearance, then yes! A design right strategy could be critical to your business’ success. Even if the appearance of your products is a peripheral factor, designs can provide an important additional tool in your IP armoury. A good designs strategy will also make sure the scope of protection obtained through the designs ties in with your business plan. Key to this is ensuring that your design registrations represent the right features of your product, and in the correct way.
Who do I speak to about my design question?
If you are new to GJE then please feel free to enter your question into the contact form below and we will direct it to the appropriate person. Alternatively you can browse the people section of our website to get in touch with one of us directly.
Get in touch
If you are an ambitious business and you expect an IP service provider that can understand and help you achieve your commercial objectives, then we want to work with you.
Complete this enquiry form and one of our specialists will be in touch within one working day. Alternatively you can call us on +44 (0)20 7655 8500. We look forward to hearing from you.