So, with global lockdowns now extended, what does the world’s foremost intellectual property lawyers advise IP owners, young brands, innovators, inventors and creators to do in a time of crisis?
Brand and Property Owners
“SMEs that have filed at least one intellectual property right are 21 percent more likely to experience a growth period afterward and are 10 percent more likely to become a high-growth company than those without rights applications,” says Victor Caddy, trademark attorney and partner, Wynne Jones IP. “In fact, SMEs with an IP portfolio in place boost their chances of high growth by a third. There is no reason to believe that this will not also apply in the current crisis.”
The huge benefits of intellectual property protection, copyright and building a bubble are that you can
- You can gain rights to the exclusive use of the IP you protect;
- You can clear yourself from infringing a third-party registered right IP, an asset you can value on your balance sheet;
- You can benefit from significant tax savings from IP that you have protected;
- You can charge higher prices if you have IP rights and can protect your market share;
- You can protect manufacturing and supply chain processes to reduce your production costs; and
- If you are selling your business, owning IP supports your exit strategy and adds weight to your proposal.
For existing businesses, having IP assets locked down can be a key requirement for investors. IP can also add to the overall value of a business, should you be looking to sell or merge in the future. But during a global crisis, the risks are tenfold.
“It’s vitally important that you have identified, assessed and mitigated the risks across all your business functions,” says Caddy. “You cannot take steps to protect your business, including your IP assets, unless you have this in place and know what you are going to do. If an IP asset is regarded as business critical, you need to protect it. If you already have IP rights in place, you need to ensure you keep them alive. You risk the viability of your business by not protecting business-critical IP; it’s that simple.”
The world’s pandemic-coping procedures will undoubtedly open valuable time for budding kids' books authors, animators, influencers and creators and present a wealth of new IP to fuel the future licensing market.
In fact, the recurring themes of World Intellectual Property Day is often innovation, and times of necessity often breed creativity. The downturns of 2008 brought forward the digital native landscapes we know today, and after COVID-19, the world is an open market for new properties offering solutions or entertainment.
“There never has been a World Intellectual Property Day like this one,” says Caddy. “The world of science and medicine has granted free access to medicines and medical devices that are protected by patents and designs, to confidential research information and data, to articles and educational materials protected by copyright, all to help in the global fight by mankind against COVID-19. Even the ultra-competitive world of Formula One motor racing has been helping. We should all be grateful. Having intellectual property rights is a sign of strength, but choosing when not to enforce them is a sign of even greater strength.
“However, for most businesses, intellectual property remains a vital part of their armory – the names that carry goodwill and the inventions that make their products the best,” adds Caddy. “And businesses like these will need an army of stormtroopers when lockdown ends. In the meantime, those businesses that can flourish online also need intellectual property more than ever. The internet is like a modern-day Wild West, and sometimes, the best strategy is to put your wagons in a circle. Likewise, a savvy entrepreneur who comes up with the best idea of their life during lockdown should not delay. In a gun fight, you fire first and ask questions later. If you don’t, you may be dead. Yes, life does feel a bit like ‘Westworld’ at the moment.”
Wynne Jones is the sponsor of Brand Licensing Europe’s License This competition, which brings new brands, characters, platforms, creations and products into the licensing market with expert legal advice from Caddy (for five lucky participants), and the potential to gain access to the Brand Licensing Europe marketplace itself as an exhibitor.
With more details yet to come on License This, nascent ideas are in dire need of protection, businesses need to prepare for life after COVID-19 and intellectual property protection is a key to unlocking potential success after lockdown.
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