Professional Services

IP Protection: Security for you and your business in a rapidly changing world

By Mat Shaw (pictured), equity partner at Forresters

Property (IP) protection has never been more important to ensure your business is secured as you branch off into this rapidly changing world. So, here’s a question - In what area is the UK ahead of China, the US and


Australia? I’m sure you are probably thinking of an Olympic sport, but the answer is

that we are ahead of all these countries when it comes to innovation. In fact, last year saw the UK jump from fifth to fourth place in the world for innovation, according to the Global Innovation Index 2018. We were beaten by Switzerland in first place, followed by the Netherlands and Sweden - and four years ago we were in second place behind Switzerland. However, there is no getting away from the fact that the reputation we have in the UK for innovation and research worldwide remains strong. Thankfully this is something the Government has picked up on, with its announcement to raise UK investment in research and development to 2.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) over the next 10 years. Brexit, and the fear of the UK economy being left behind versus its global competitors, is the likely catalyst for this move. Never before has it been more important to protect these creative

innovations, which include inventions, literary and artistic works, and designs, symbols, names and images. Protection comes in the form of patents, copyright and trade marks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. However, as we have seen very recently, these ideas can easily be stolen – potentially damaging innovative businesses. US President Donald Trump decided to impose tariffs on $50bn

worth of imports from China as punishment for the alleged theft of American intellectual property. Violations included counterfeiting famous brands and stealing trade secrets to pressuring companies to share technology with Chinese companies, and all to gain access to China’s vast market. China has benefitted from a strangely relaxed attitude

from successive US administrations, and also by Western companies seemingly tolerating the situation, so as not to anger Beijing and thus be barred from the Chinese market. However, companies are starting to fight back,

and protect their creative innovations. One recent

he UK is a world leader when it comes to innovation in a wide variety of sectors and industries, and yet no one knows how we will fare in the global market over the next few years. Intellectual

case was when Midlands-based luxury carmaker, Jaguar Land Rover, won in China against Jiangling Holdings Co Ltd for making cars that copy features of the Range Rover Evoque. Beijing Chaoyang District Court said that the Evoque had five unique features that were copied directly in the Landwind X7, leading to widespread consumer confusion. The court ruled that all sales, manufacturing and marketing of the Landwind vehicle must stop immediately and Jaguar Land Rover be paid compensation. And so, the Range Rover Evoque was launched in China last month, without the worry of losing sales to a copycat competitor. As businesses look to expand outside of the UK and enter new markets,

a number of different rules can apply. Getting the correct intellectual property rights in place is an important factor for businesses that want global success. However, as you can imagine, intellectual property rights are treated differently by each country, with products and services only being protected in the countries in which those rights are awarded. If businesses are going to survive and grow with the current political and

economic uncertainty, they will have to cash in on their reputation for innovation to compete in a foreign market. And, like Jaguar Land Rover, if they don’t want to battle against the copycat competitors they need to be certain they have the IP Rights in place to ensure they stay ahead of the race.


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