One of the themes explored was harnessing innovation and protecting intellectual property, key areas for creating and supporting the development of a robust mid-market in Scotland.
Intellectual property is an integral part of any business, whether the business is based on commercialising products or providing services. By protecting and enforcing a business’s intellectual property, such IP can be used exclusively as a commercial asset and so the business can be an attractive prospect for investment.
Of course protecting IP is key for all businesses, whatever stage they are at. All businesses should consider:
What IP it uses;
Who owns that IP (not always clear if non-employees have generated IP for the business); and
- Is the IP suitably protected by using robust written agreements for commercial transactions with third parties?
Enforcement of IP is very relevant to a business in the mid-sector, where reputation and success can result in third parties producing similar products and/or services. Mid-sector businesses are more likely to sue or be sued for IP infringement. It is best practice to constantly monitor the market to make sure that third parties copying or imitating your IP are identified. And it is easier to enforce IP rights if that IP is well documented and registered where appropriate.
Key messages for those in attendance were:
Avoid being infringed;
Take stock of all IP owned by and essential to your business;
Register IP rights in countries where you trade;
Secure confidential business information and know how internally by having appropriate processes in place for employees; and
- Always disclose confidential information under an NDA during pre-contractual discussions, and ensure that any contract with a third party has robust IP and confidentiality terms.