International Trade: Patent protection is safest option

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Some companies, mainly those operating in niche markets believe that new product innovation is the best form of defence, but for the majority, taking a patent out on a product or technology is an absolute must.

Graeme Orchison, North West head of Intellectual Property at law firm DLA Piper, says a safety-first approach to patent protection is recommended.

To download our International Trade supplement, sponsored by DLA Piper and RSM Tenon, click here. 

He explains: “If you have spent three years investing, researching and creating a product, it is something you are going to want to protect through a patent, and this gives you a 20-year monopoly on it.”

Patents and trademarks are important, but can be both costly and difficult to enforce in different overseas markets.

Mr Orchison adds: “The thing to remember is that a lot of relevant IP rights are territorial. If you have protection in the UK and you want to sell in France or China, it’s important that you have to have the equivalent protection for those countries.”

He says it’s important that consumer-facing companies entering new territories protect their brand through taking out a trade mark.

“This should be at the top of the list for any business going into a new territory, brands have to be consistent in terms of quality otherwise they can be devalued  and damaged.”

Another way of mitigating risk to IP is to take practical steps, like retaining key data at head office
 
Paul Langhorn, international development partner at RSM Tenon said: “I have one client who uses a unique process to colour plastics. The machine is overseas but the control software all sits over here. So you have something inert in another country and it is controlled from a remote site.”

To download our International Trade supplement, sponsored by DLA Piper and RSM Tenon, click here. 

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