When starting a company, intellectual property is too often an afterthought as it is far from the most exciting part of setting up a new venture.
That said, it is a company’s most valuable asset which is why maintaining an up-to-date view of your intellectual property portfolio is a non-negotiable for any startup or SME looking to take their business to the next level.
It is proven that startups with IP are more likely to grow faster and be more successful. Knowing what you have is the first step, which is why an IP Audit is essential.
The IP Audits Plus Scheme is an initiative backed by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) to give UK-based startups and SMEs advice and guidance on how to maximise their IP portfolio.
It is carried out by an IP specialist who can advise on the value of existing IP assets, the potential of under-utilised assets and how your IP can dovetail with your wider business strategy.
The startup or SME pays an initial £500 and, in return, gets an IP Audit worth £3,000, with the remaining fees covered by the UKIPO.
The scheme is open to any startup or SME that has fewer than 250 employees and a turnover of less than £41 million.
The applicant must also set out how the IP audit will form part of their wider business growth strategy.
Finally, the applicant must engage one of the IPO partner business support schemes. The recognised partners are the Enterprise Europe Network, Scottish Enterprise and the Welsh Government.
An IP audit gives you a full review of the IP that your company has. This means you can secure anything you own but have not correctly documented or registered.
This will cover any spots where you may be weak or at risk. Any weaknesses will be exploited by your rivals and their own teams of IP specialists.
As part of the audit, all contracts such as employment agreements and partnership agreements will be reviewed. This should be the first thing any new business does, but if you haven’t done so already, the IP audit will ensure all the IP is owned by the company – something you want to deal with now before investors come on board.
Of course, some of your IP may be correctly protected, but this does not mean its value is being maximised. IP specialists who have made a career out of identifying new inventions, licensing opportunities and patentable ideas are best placed to spot the hidden value in your current IP portfolio. It is the fastest way to add value to a young company.
New companies may argue that obtaining IP is expensive, but with the IP audit, your SME need only pay £500 towards the cost of the process, with the UKIPO covering the majority of the fees. Therefore, as a starting point, the IP audit is the most cost-effective way to realise the potential of your IP portfolio and add value to your business.
With the IP audit, you can choose a preferred partner to help you carry it out. This is important because it is unlikely to be the last time you need to deal with an IP specialist, so building that relationship is important. They can also guide you in terms of dovetailing your IP portfolio with your wider business strategy, ensuring maximum protection and value.
Are you a startup or SME who needs an IP audit carried out to take their business to the next level? Our IP specialists are waiting to help you understand and maximise your IP portfolio. Speak to our team now and let us guide you every step of the way.