I reckon I've dealt with hundreds of nappies over the course of the last five years (I have a 4 year-old and a 1 year-old). At no point (perhaps due to the task at hand) did I stop to look at quite how much clever tech goes into making nappies. A recent patent case means that I'll probably pay more attention when nature calls!
Being an IP attorney is inherently a "European" business. I am a UK and European patent and design attorney. My business partner, Michelle, is a Registered UK and European trade mark attorney. We (mostly) deal with European law. We obtain pan-EU design and trade mark rights for our clients. I took bi-lingual European Patent exams in English and German. The list goes on.
As such, a UK exit from the EU is going to shake things up for us- and for our clients. I wouldn't want to try and sway anyone reading this either way, so our intention is to simply explain what we think would happen to UK companies' IP rights should we decide to go it alone.
I am constantly amazed that more clients don't do (and have never considered) competitor watching. Patents offer a well codified, fully searchable insight into your competitors' R&D efforts, and a simple monthly alert can give you a heads-up on what they are working on.
There are two main reasons-
- Freedom to operate. This search seeks to answer the question "will I infringe anyone else's patent if I make / sell / import this item?".
- Patentability. In other words- "can I get a patent for this?".
Searching is a complex art which most patent attorneys avoid like the plague- we tend to outsource to specialists. That said, as an aspiring inventor with a good idea, there is some preliminary searching you can do yourself to get a head start. Here are 5 tips to get you started.
The UK government offers heavily subsidised IP audits for qualifying companies. You basically pay £400 for a highly detailed £3000 audit (the Intellectual Property Office - or IPO - picks up the rest of the bill) which will enable your business to put together an IP strategy.
Has the world gone crazy? Are companies spending millions on R&D, tens of thousands on patent protection and just giving it all away? Tesla, Ford, Toyota - all have attracted headlines along the lines of "Company X opens up patent portfolio" or "Company Y gives away patents". But what's really going on?