Protecting trademark-intensive industries for UK businesses

Intellectual property rights (IPR)-intensive industries are sectors which utilise notable numbers of copyrights, trademarks, patents and industrial designs. They constitute arguably the most important segment of the British economy, and as such, businesses, as well as the government, must focus their efforts and resources to protect IP from infringement to minimise disruption to the economy.

Importance of Intellectual property rights-intensive industries to the economy of the UK

Intellectual property rights (IPR)-intensive industries generate in excess of €890 billion to the economy of the UK, which represents approximately 40 percent of its GDP. While this is slightly lower than the EU average of 45 percent, the UK outperforms most countries in the copyright and trademark categories.

The IPR-intensive industries also employ over 6.4 million workers, which accounts for a third of employment in the country. This is marginally higher than the EU average, which is around 29 percent.

A strong presence and use of IP copyrights, trademarks, patents, etc. is indicative of a country’s innovative culture and investment in research and development. As such, these figures predict well for the future economic prosperity of the UK.

Nonetheless, trademarks and copyrights are not the be-all and end-all of IP protection – companies need to implement a standard operating procedure to safeguard their brands against infringements.

How businesses can protect themselves from IP violations

Technological, procedural and artistic innovations and breakthroughs cost fairly large amounts of time and money to achieve. However, companies are more than willing to invest in such endeavours because these achievements will improve the financial performance of companies both in the short- and long-term. Nonetheless, companies must also ensure that their intellectual properties are protected, and are not used by others illegally. To safeguard against illegal profiteering from their IP, companies should follow these recommendations:

  1. Register their claims, be it copyright, trademark, design right or applied protection. This will document the company’s irrevocable right over them.
  2. Renew the IP ownership as required by law. For instance, while patent protection lasts for twenty years, trademarks lapse after ten years. So don’t be caught off guard.
  3. Raise awareness of your IP. Proudly and blatantly display any trademarks, copyrights or patent ownerships on websites, printed literature and even on products. 
  4. Monitor the market. Assign someone to periodically monitor the market and find any illegal or unauthorised use of your IP. There is no trademark police, so you’ll have to find the culprit yourselves.
  5. Follow through on legal action. The worst thing you can do is not follow up on counterfeiters. If they learn that you are hesitant about spending money to pursue legal judgements, they will become emboldened. Before long, your soft underbelly will be known by criminal organisations running these counterfeiting rings, and you’ll become a regular target.

To summarise, it is your duty to claim and enforce ownership of your intellectual properties – no one else will if you don’t. 

More on Brand Protection:

It pays to protect intangible assets

WIPO director general calls for more innovative IP protection solutions

#ImForReal - Take a stand against the market of counterfeit goods

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