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IP Audit For Start-Ups

May 27, 2021, By

Every business owns some form of intellectual property (IP).

IP encompasses various forms, and generally includes 5 areas:

  1. Trade marks protect brand names, logos, etc.;
  2. Copyright protects various original creations and covers artworks, literary works (presentations, social media posts, newsletters, etc.), photographs, music works, software, etc.;
  3. Design rights protect how things look and are valuable rights that could cover the shape of goods, patterns, ornamentation, packaging, etc.;
  4. Patents protect innovations and how things work;
  5. Trade secrets can protect valuable information such as client lists, processes, recipes, etc.

When starting the business, protecting IP might not be at the forefront of your mind, but it is important to start thinking about IP at an early stage.

IP audits can help your business in the following way:

  • It will identify what IP is owned by your company

The first important value of an IP audit is to inform you about the intellectual property you own to help you make decisions about intellectual property protection, development and exploitation.

  • It will identify who owns IP and help you correct any defects in chains of title

There is a common misconception about IP ownership – many business owners believes that if they pay a third party for the creation of the work (e.g., logo, artworks, software), they own the IP in such work. However, this is not the case – the contractor will retain ownership of IP unless there is a written assignment provision transferring ownership to your company.

IP audit will allow you to identify if there are any gaps in chain of title and correct them. This is especially important when it comes to IP exploitation, attracting investment and selling the business – if you decide to do so further down the line.

  • It will identify roadblocks and help prevent disputes 

If, for example, you have not cleared the brand name you chose for your business, you may later discover that another company owns trade mark rights to it, and you could be forced to re-brand, defend infringement proceedings or face an opposition when you do apply for a trade mark.

An audit can identify weaknesses in your intellectual property rights, and your lawyer will explain options of corrective actions available to you.

To sum up, an IP audit will allow you to identify:

  • What IP assets your business has;
  • Who owns IP in your business and how to correct any defects in chain of title;
  • Any weaknesses in IP assets and how to correct them;
  • A list of recommended action points to help you protect your IP assets.

Briffa, being expert in all aspects intellectual property law and practice, will be happy to help you conduct an IP audit of your business and put a IP protection strategy in place. Please feel free to drop us an email or give us a call and we will be happy to arrange a free 30 minute consultation with one of our specialist IP lawyers.

Written by Anastasia Troshkova, Solicitor