Recent research suggests that Small and Medium Enterprise's ("SME's") are struggling to protect their ideas and intellectual property ("IP").
The research undertaken by the Federation of Small Businesses ("FSB") highlighted that 25% of SME's have suffered from some form of violation or wrongdoing in relation to their IP within the last five years and that 9% have been the victim of theft on ore than one occasion. To compound the problem, almost one in three small organisations that own IP rights rely on it for 75-100% of their revenue.
The Intellectual Property Office has instigated a number of strategies and tools to try and help SME's combat IP theft and infringement. Such tools include the IP Equip service which helps businesses to understand what type of IP they may own and/or have rights in and the Patents Opinion Service and the Designs Opinion Service (which is to be launched on 1 October 2015) which both aim to provide opinions as to whether an act constitutes infringement before a party decides to take more formal action, for example, through the courts. There is also a mediation service called the IPO Mediation Service which has fees starting from £55+vat for an hour long telephone mediation.
However, despite the Intellectual Property Office's initiatives the FSB's research shows that small firms find them difficult to use and is calling for efforts to improve signposting and simplification to encourage take-up of the support that is available.
The national chairman of the FSB, John Allan, has urged SME's to obtain more support when faced with IP theft and/or infringement. Allan explained that:
"The knowledge economy, which runs on innovative ideas and brands, is becoming ever more critical to our economic success. Left unchecked, theft and infringement of ideas, patents and brand costs small businesses and diminishes their appetite to invest in their business, ultimately hampering the UK's long-term economic growth."
The research also revealed that 32% of companies that took part in the survey said they had spent money on their IP rights within the last five years, with one in five of those investing more than £5,000.
A full copy of the report which is entitled "Key to the Knowledge Economy Making the Most of Small Business Intellectual Property" can be obtained by clicking the link.
If you have been the victim of IP theft or are affected by any of the issues raised in the report do not hesitate to contact us on 0191 281 4000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org: Companies, Copyright, Designs, News, Patents, Trade Marks