Intellectual Property Business Advice For Startups

Before considering a budget for services such as Outsourcing, Trademark or Patents even, I’d like to give you some pointers based on my experience of advising startups of all types over the last 15 years.

Businesses tend to change radically in the early years so that a few years after starting up, many look nothing like their initial manifestation.

Sometimes this can be because as they get market feedback on their concepts their ideas develop and they pivot. Or it may be that new businesses don’t know what it is exactly that they do, and who they do it for. Even professionals, like lawyers and web designers, who you would think know pretty clearly what they do, struggle with this.

Startups, therefore, take time to find their feet.

For this reason, I would counsel against spending too much money on anything, be it design, legal fees, or otherwise. As the business gradually achieves clarity about the demand for its goods and services, and figures out which services will...

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Power of Habits ā€“ How Habits Are The Way To Protecting An Organisationā€™s Intellectual Property

habits Jul 01, 2019

If you prefer to listen/watch a video instead of reading then click here to go to my youtube channel.

I recently read The Power of Habit Why We Do What We Do and How to Change.

Books have a wealth of wisdom and this one is a real gem. Among other things the insights I’ve gleaned from the book are that habits are the key to change.  Once a new action or activity turns into a habit - that is, a choice one makes without thinking about it – the chain reaction from the new actions will follow.

Essentially, if we want to progress in our lives, the key is to re-evaluate our habits to see which ones to replace with new ones.  Some habits are keystone habits so that once you change them a whole series of other changes are likely to be more easily made. For example, if a heavy smoker gives up smoking that might be the catalyst leading to them taking up exercise, eating and drinking more healthily, finding new hobbies and turning their life around.



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How to Start An Online Business Taking Action In the Right Order

Uncategorized Jun 24, 2019

If you prefer to listen/watch a video instead of reading then click here to go to my youtube channel.

The more thoughtfully you implement your ideas when starting your online business, the fewer actions you’ll need to undo or redo later.

It’s easy to get paralysed by fear or indecision or to be too perfectionist though. So, be ready to test your ideas, learn and try again, aiming for the happy medium between planning and doing.

Do put some thought into risk management and intellectual property protection though by being aware of the issues, examining them and then doing what’s feasible and desirable to reduce them so you’re not gambling with your future and take calculated risks.

You have to start to be great so do commit to starting your project, spending as little as possible in the testing phases.


Find your starting point

To reach our goals in life we need to be at the right starting point for the steps we’re about to take.

Where you...

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Baby Boomers ā€“ 6 Reasons To Avoid Stereotypes In Your Marketing

baby boomers Jun 17, 2019

A LinkedIn connection recently messaged me saying “this may be of interest to you and relevant to your situation”. The link was to an article on retirement.

Really? She thinks this sort of message is going to sell anything to a baby boomer?

In case you need reminding, baby boomers are those of us born between 1946 and 1964, so about half are at retirement age, which is currently 65 in the UK.

Referring to a baby boomer as old is hardly a winning approach. Here are 6 reasons why not.


Reason #1 – Don’t Intend To Get Old

Baby boomers are a generation that never intended to get old. As Roger Daltry of the Who evocatively puts it in the song ‘My generation’, he hopes to die before he gets old. Hence why he is still going strong at 75, performing and singing, while Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones also 75 still tours, and is back dancing after his recent heart surgery.

Music invariably reflects the culture of its time and this refusal to...

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Opposition to a UK Trade Mark

trademark Jun 10, 2019

People often ring us up when they receive a note of threatened opposition to their trade mark application so I thought it might be useful to give an overview of the UK Intellectual Property Office’s opposition process.


The UKIPO provides a number of guidance documents about UK oppositions which provide detailed information and advice about all aspects of the opposition process. Rather than duplicating those notes, I want to give you a short overview with weblinks to the relevant UKIPO information.


What is an opposition about?


All UK trade mark applications are published by the UKIPO for a period of two months (extendible by one month). Publication allows third parties to oppose registration if they consider that the UK mark should not proceed to registration.


There are many grounds on which you can oppose the registration. A common reason is that the published mark is confusingly similar to an earlier mark owned by you for the same or similar goods...

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When Does aĀ Start UpĀ Need to Register a Trademark?

Uncategorized Jun 03, 2019

Every time you create a product, service, or business, you need a brand identity for it. Without a doubt, the most important element of most brands is the name.

The law protects names through trademarks, not copyright.  

It is not possible to claim copyright in a name, even if the name is one you made up.

Start ups often wonder whether they need to spend the money to register a trademarkSome wonder why it’s not enough to have registered a company or domain name. Yet others have heard of unregistered trademark rights being acquired through use, and wonder why they should not just use the name without bothering with any trademark registrations.

Company and Domain name registrations are insufficient

The short answer to whether company or domain registrations are enough is no.  Domain and company names do not give you the necessary rights you need in a name.  The fact that they are available to register does not mean you may use...

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Trade Names or Business Names as Trademarks

Uncategorized May 27, 2019

Quin & Donnelly was a well-known and successful fashion design partnership in Ireland which was founded more than 30 years ago when the pair were fashion students.

Their collections had been sold for more than 15 years by retailers including Brown Thomas and House of Fraser when a dispute concerning their brand name Quin & Donnelly brought about the death of the brand.  As the Times reported in 2014 Fashion duo’s fight ends in brand death.

The reason for mentioning the case is to emphasise the importance of registering a trade mark to protect the brand value in your name and the brand equity you generate. There are so many ways in which failing to take basic steps concerning trademarks can cause problems for a business and this is just one example. 

The designers had registered their name as a business name (on the register of Business Names, which has now been abolished)....

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Does Copyright Protect Names?

copyright May 20, 2019

Copyright is a wide-ranging subject, and relevant to many creative and non-creative industries.  

It is arguably the most universally relevant IP right, covering written materials, music, art, logos, and computer programs, to name a few.  It protects most visual brand elements, such as logos, packaging, and websites, albeit it may also be possible to protect these by also registering some of them as designs or trademarks to secure added protection.

Copyright protects original expression, but not ideas themselves.  So, if someone were to suggest an idea to you to execute, such as an unusual looking picture of a bird, or gave you an idea for a plot, you as the creator would own copyright in the picture or plot you produce,and the person who gave you the idea will have no rights to any share of it. So the person with ideas gets no copyright in the work created as a result of their ideas unless there is a...

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How to Protect Your Organisationā€™s Valuable IP Once and for All

Uncategorized May 13, 2019

I’m Shireen Smith, a lawyer who supports businesses to identify, defend and protect their intellectual property.  After a career working for large organisations, including as an inhouse lawyer at Reuters, I founded Azrights, which is a boutique intellectual property law firm in London and Hastings.  Since then I’ve worked with hundreds of clients from start-ups through to large multinationals with over £300 million in turnover.

For business leaders responsible for intellectual property

Are you in charge of addressing the intellectual property needs of your organisation? Does the buck stop with you? Do you want to ensure the foundations of your business are solid, and that the value of your IP accumulates and increases as you grow in success?  Are you keen to avoid failure of your projects through inappropriate treatment of intellectual property?

Then you’ll want to find out why adopting an “IP First” approach is the key to managing...

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International Trade Marks

Trade marks are your “badge of origin”, and serve to identify your products and services.  Without trade marks, it would be impossible to find the products and services we like and to avoid those we don’t. So, trade marks are tools enabling consumers to identify products and services they have enjoyed and want to buy again.

Trademarks protect the reputation and goodwill of a brand.

Any sign unique to your business may be registered as a trademark. The most commonly registered marks are words, logos, and slogans.


International Trade Mark Protection

There is no such thing as an international trademark. Trademarks are territorial, meaning you need to register in each country in which you intend to trade.

Trademarks give you rights in the country or territory where you register. For companies trading in UK or Europe, the first step will be to apply for a UK or EU trademark. Those businesses that purely trade in this country will just want to register a UK...

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