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If you’re developing new solutions and making plans to expand globally, applying for trademarks or patents, and protecting your intellectual property, should be a priority.

Research by the European Patent Office shows that SMEs who file IP are more likely to experience high levels of growth than those that don’t. SMEs are 21% more likely to enter into a high growth period, and 10% more likely to become a high growth firm, or HGF. The effect is even greater for those filing IP in international markets, with a 17% increase in the likelihood of an SME becoming an HGF when filing at European level.


Protecting Your Most Valuable Assets

One of the biggest issues with regard to IP today is that businesses are creating intellectual property constantly and consistently, sometimes without realising it. In some cases, the value of IP can even outweigh the value of an organisation’s physical assets.

“Businesses face a range of challenges to make the most of their IP. Many do not understand IP or know they have it as a potentially valuable asset”
- Innovation and Growth Report, Intellectual Property Office

There are a number of different types of intellectual property, including copyrights such as web content and artwork, patents such as new business inventions and processes, and design rights and trademarks which help to protect logos, words, and sounds.


The Pitfalls of Non-Protection

Research by the Intellectual Property Office shows us that while 15% of small businesses have registered a trademark overseas, only 5% have an IP Management Policy. For UK-based businesses without an existing presence in international markets, it is essential to ensure that a clear strategy is in place to protect valuable IP and mitigate risk.

There are a number of challenges that businesses can face when entering new markets with regard to their intellectual property. For example, revealing pre-launch information at trade shows and through other networking events is a vital aspect in raising awareness and generating an international client base. However, it can open up doors to other businesses registering IP first, resulting in a costly need to redesign or rebrand.

An IP audit is key to creating a strategic overview of your IP assets and potential commercial viability in international markets. By developing a tailored IP strategy, SMEs can successfully maximise the value of their IP. A strong strategy will help to protect your prized products and processes, and can also help to minimise the risk of costly infringements on other businesses’ names and ideas.

“Historically, Unette has been a business of action and innovation. Working with EEN has allowed us to put that innovation firmly at the heart of our business model and ensure that it is managed and protected in a structured way as we grow and expand.” - David Rimmer, Director of Unette.


Taking Action

"While IP may be the last thing on your mind when entering new international markets or developing new solutions – especially if you are reviewing your business model in the light of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to consider intellectual property and potential issues early on in the R&D, growth and expansion process”, says Felipe Escandon, Senior Innovation Advisor at Enterprise Europe Network.

Felipe adds: “IP rules and regimes around the world vary significantly, with the timescale to file IP ranging from just a few months to more than one year for trademarks. It is therefore important to factor this in your planning so you not only protect your solutions from being copied but you also protect the growth of your business.”


Now is the time to take action. Speak to EENW for advice, or to arrange for a part-funded IP audit, delivered in partnership with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

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GC International Trade

GC International Trade