COX PaulPaul Cox, partner and head of our intellectual property team, has put together a helpful Q&A for clients on Intellectual Property Audits.

Intellectual Property (known as IP) exists in many guises and is protected in different ways.  Some of these rights, such as confidential information, copyright and unregistered design rights will come into existence automatically and there is no real need to do anything. Other rights, such as registered designs, trade marks and patents, will need to be registered at the relevant registries around the world.

Failure to secure adequate protection for your IP can be disastrous; as it may mean that you are unable to prevent competitors exploiting your IP or make it more difficult and expensive to enforce your intellectual property rights.  Also, as many people will know from 'Dragons' Den', investors want to see that businesses are taking their IP rights seriously and ensuring appropriate protection. 

What is an IP Audit?

An IP Audit is a detailed review of your business and its IP. During this Audit we will produce a comprehensive report highlighting any gaps in your protection or risks to the business.  Importantly, we will suggest the key actions that the businesses might wish to implement in order to protect its IP and make it easier to enforce rights in the future.  

A key driver behind IP Audits is helping businesses to reach their potential by receiving the right guidance and advice to grow. Research commissioned by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) in 2015-2016 showed that most businesses act on the recommendations produced as a consequence of an IP Audit. In the same research, 22% of businesses reported that the recommendations identified new business opportunities such as licensing or franchising.

Is there funding available for IP Audits? Is my business eligible?

The IPO offers funding support for IP Audits through its IP Audits Plus Scheme which is run with the support of its IP Audit Partners; Enterprise Europe NetworkScottish Enterprise or the Welsh Government.

The current scheme closes on 31 March 2018 and will be followed with a new scheme for 2018-2019 in April 2018. The scheme is available to small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with clear plans for growth.

What does the funding cover and how does it work?

Through the scheme, the IPO will fund £2,600 (inc. VAT) of the total cost of the IP Audit, totalling £3,000 (inc. VAT). This will be paid directly to the IP professional undertaking the Audit, with the final £400 (inc. VAT) to be paid by you.

You will also be provided with an opportunity to discuss the report's recommendations with our Intellectual Property team for one hour without charge.

It is your choice which IP professional to instruct to undertake your IP Audit.  Foot Anstey LLP is one of the firms which can provide this service under the scheme and we would be happy to answer any questions you have about the audit process.

Sounds great! How do I apply?

You will need to make an application for funding for the IP Audit with a relevant partner; Enterprise Europe Network covers IP Audits in England through its innovate2succeed (i2s) programme, whilst Scottish Enterprise and the Welsh Government cover IP Audits in Scotland and Wales respectively. Once received, if your business qualifies, the partner will oversee and submit your application to the IPO on your behalf.

If you have further questions, please contact Paul Cox, partner on T: +44 (0)2380 172212 | M: +44 (0)7976 854783 | E: paul.cox@footanstey.com

Tags: Intellectual Property


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