IP mistakes to avoid


A highly recommended free publication is IP mistakes business people make when trying to make money from their big idea, by Shireen Smith of Intellectual Property Lawyers Azrights. Get your copy from http://www.ip-brands.com/.

IPMBPMWTTMMFTBI (if asked, we might have argued for a snappier title) is aimed primarily at businesses but inventors can learn much from it too. And it’s an easy, well-written read, which always helps.

The seven mistakes Shireen Smith identifies are:

1  Revealing your big idea too soon.
2  Not understanding the importance of a strong brand.
3  Not budgeting for intellectual property help and advice.
4  Relying only on creatives for branding and marketing advice.
5  Seeing IP as a cost rather than an investment.
DIY legal advice.
7  Assuming a patent is all you need to succeed with your big idea.

Pre-business stage inventors will find plenty of useful tips here, especially if they plan to market their own inventions.

For example, if you have a business website, always register the domain name yourself:

Domains are owned contractually by the person named as the registrant – so, if your web designer registers your website’s domain, they are the owner. The domain renewal notice will go to them. If the renewal notice is overlooked, typically because it is sent to your web designer, or to an employee who has left your company, you won’t know the domain needs to be renewed. To risk the loss of your domain name and website is a costly mistake.

Too right. We know of more than one inventor-led business that hit a rock because it relied on someone else, not always still around or still friendly, to set them up with a website.

And there is a very useful section on managing risk when having products made abroad. Especially in China. Because, as Shireen Smith diplomatically puts it: ‘safeguards abroad are not always in line with what you might expect’.

(And while we’re at it, let’s say it again – there are some great small manufacturers in the UK, increasingly competitive and with the big advantages of language, shared jurisdiction and relative proximity.)

Quibbles? Hardly any. We might mutter that Mistake 5: Seeing IP as a cost rather than an investment is all very well but for inventors and start-ups operating on a shoestring, seeing it as anything other than a cost might take some doing.

And while IP Mistakes… gets a big round of applause from us for Mistake 7, Assuming a patent is all you need to succeed with your big idea, we’d take minor issue with the example of Daisuke Inoue, who invented the karaoke machine but didn’t patent it. Shireen Smith says: ‘Had he done so it could have made him millions’. We say it might equally have cost him millions defending a shaky patent, as in technology terms the karaoke machine didn’t amount to much – a view perhaps shared by Mr Inoue himself, who is reported  as saying: ’I simply put things that already exist together’. (And it seems he did OK from his business anyway.)

But never mind. IP Mistakes… is a highly useful publication from someone who obviously cares. And it’s free. So get your copy now.

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