Intellectual Property (IP) and your USP’s (Unique Selling Points) are indelibly linked and connected. If you want either to be meaningful, this blog with linked webinar recording discusses and suggests why they need to be linked, developed and protected by you, rather than relying on the legal systems in the UK and Worldwide.
With real time examples, our IP and International Biz Smart select member and core adviser, Steve Parker, discusses, for any new product or service, some of the considerations that will help you to, frankly, maximise sales and marketing success and penetration, increase routes to market, and make them much more difficult for your hard work and creativity to be copied.
Perfect for strategic thinking on your existing products and services and particularly, for current and future ones that you are considering turning into profitable global reality, or just for selling into Worcestershire and of course the Black Country!
What does IP really mean and what types of legal protection is there?
A Patent can be granted to someone who has created something that is inventive, new and useful –
essentially it is meant to stop others from making, using or selling your invention.
A Trade Mark distinguishes the goods and services of one trader from those of another –
Sometimes people know this as brand protection – more than just your logo, a brand is a ‘promise of an experience’
Design for Appearance – often known as Registered Design – describes the appearance or ‘look’ of manufactured products – aimed at preventing other manufacturers from taking your idea and then making it themselves – beware of copies and cheap impersonations?!
So if you are a smaller company and don’t expect to be able to afford complete IP protection, how should I start?
Consider doing an exercise valuing your IP including ………
Identify the products and services that are key to your business
Identify the market advantage these rights might give you.
Have I got the mental and financial capacity to protect them?
The reality is that current IP protection in the UK and Globally is not airtight, or practical
for small and micro businesses.
So I want to open your minds to the thought that your company and my company has to find other ways to protect ourselves. To make it so difficult for people and companies to copy that they may be deterred. To make your clients stand up for you and not accept copies.
My suggestion is that this starts with your design, your selling and your marketing……………
Here is one way we do this for my Stourbridge Glass Company…………
We work with interior designers to create new feature pieces or create new ones for ourselves.
We could not possibly invest the time and money in legal protection as this happens often.
We also know that when the projects go out to tender, some countries insist on a phrase ‘and equal or other approved’ being included in the tender documents.
So lets imagine I have already had detailed discussions with the interior designers and other parties about the design concept and shown them some ideas……
We then internally decide how we can make the pieces and add value and difficulty to the process – for both appearance and to give us the best chance of getting the order ………..
And the best chance of all parties ensuring that we get the order,
We consider carefully not just the design features – our ‘USP’s but also how to make it in a way that the pieces will be very difficult to copy.
All pieces are discreetly signed and have subtle identification marks too.
It is normally worth the effort – as it proves our capabilities, gives us lots of excuses to contact the clients and get them involved in the designs and develop within them, a strong desire to protect us.
We couldn’t really financially and mentally afford to action legal redress anyway and the time and money on establishing this would make our company uncompetitive.
Could variations on these methods apply to yours……..
Designs, how you sell and market, relationships protection?
But how else can I do this for my products and services?
Be conscious of the possibility of someone copying – it can be easier for some cultures to copy than innovate!
Always control your own tooling and build marks and identification into it.
Even if grants and financial help ask you to publicly tender for capital equipment and help, be aware that you don’t put information into the public domain that can be used by competitors, before you have even started!
Sell the design and benefits of your products during the selling and marketing but keep some elements secret, unless you completely trust someone. Use NDA’s if it makes you feel happier.
If you use overseas manufacturers such as in China, employ inspection agencies to check products, quality and any of the manufacturers own literature and identification marks appearing in your consignments. ‘ Thought you might like to know we make this for X’ has happened before.
Personalise your products and services – make You and Your company the original and best – not a copy or a poor impersonation. Tribute bands are fine but you cant beat seeing the originals can you?!
Personalise your products and include identification so you can check if they are yours later and tell your customers how they can prove they are originals.
Include an element of fun and personality that might make everything difficult for others to copy!