Common Intellectual Property considerations for start-ups

Written by Daniel Crate | March 15, 2023

Intellectual Property

A few weeks ago I sat down with the founder and CEO of Pleese (formally Pleesecakes). Pleese make specialist cheesecakes and other exciting products, including revolutionizing the frozen desert market by creating the world’s first scoopable frozen cheesecake (“It’s not Ice cream”).

But it wasn’t all plain sailing. From Dragon’s Den to making cheesecake for the Queen, and being forced to shelve growth plans during the pandemic, Joe discussed how he has turned his direct to consumer business into the scaled up retailer sector.

You can listen to my conversation with Joe Moruzzi here via our Briffa Soundbite’s podcast.

Below I discuss some common issues a start-up in the FMCG sector will come across, and how we help our clients address them early on, in turn providing them with more time to manage their businesses.

Brand protection

We can help you protect both your brand name and brand’s logo by registering them as trade marks in the UK, EU or wherever in the world your business has customers via our longstanding ties with international agents. This can often include us completing clearance checks for your proposed brand name to help the application process run as smoothly as possible.  If we think you need to go back to the drawing board we will tell you.

Once registered your trade mark will provide you with protection in the relevant class of goods or services your business operates (whether that’s the retail of baked beans, live music venues or accessories for dogs and pet lizards).

We then help our clients enforce their trade marks when others infringe their rights.


Confidential information and trade secrets can be critical to the growth and value of your business (take the recipe for Coca-Cola for example).

We provide our clients with holistic strategies to implement in order to mitigate the risk of confidential information being passed to unintended parties and competitors in the first place. This can be as simple as ensuring you have a clear Non-Disclosure Agreement in place, to reviewing the contracts you have with your employees and freelancers, and educating your team on how to manage and store information.

Collecting customer data

Whether it’s intentional or not, it’s almost inevitable that your business will be collecting personal data via your website and social media platforms. In order to comply with UK GDPR and the difficulties of data protection, you are required to have a privacy policy and a cookie policy to make sure you do not fall outside of what is required.

Where you do not have compliant policies you run the increased risk of being fined up to 4% of your annual global turnover or £17.5 million (whichever is greater).

Manufacturing and distribution

Scaling up production and distribution is a logistical headache.

We help our clients by ensuring they have clear and concise agreements in place with their manufacturers (wherever they may be based in the world). This mitigates the risk of the manufacturer misappropriating your intellectual property and creating your product for competitors.

Likewise, when you have talks with distributors you will want to ensure the term of any agreement, the minimum orders they need to place, the units they need to sell and the territory the agreement relates to are clearly set out in black and white.

If you would like to explore how we may be able to help your business, please get in touch with one of our specialist lawyers.

Written by Dan Crate – Solicitor 


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