The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is offering Scottish businesses a range of tools in a bid to help protect and manage their IP.
At the centre of the package, IP Equip is a free interactive training tool, available online and in app form, which helps businesses to identify assets that can be protected by IP.
The project – IP for Business – also includes products called IP Basics, a host of guides on IP, and IP Health Check, which allows businesses to value their IP.
IP for Business was launched in October last year but was available only in England until now. The initiative is now also open to businesses in Wales and Northern Ireland.
In a statement, the IPO said the project is in response to the challenge of ensuring businesses can generate value from their ideas against a backdrop of “poor understanding” of IP rights and how to exploit them.
Small businesses can find IP a daunting prospect, added IP minister Lord Younger.
“However, what ‘IP for Business’ shows is that with the correct support and guidance, this doesn’t have to be the case.”
The tools will “greatly assist” Scottish businesses with developing strategies for protecting IP, said Colin Meager, who works for Scottish Enterprise, an agency that advises Scottish companies.
And the project is a “good move”, said David Moreland, Glasgow office managing partner at Marks & Clerk LLP.
“A lot of British firms do tend to have a poor understanding of IP rights or sometimes it’s a self effacing attitude – inventors don’t realise that what they’ve invented could be important and worth protecting.
“Often that results in statistics where you can see that businesses in other countries are more IP savvy than in the UK – the number of patents we file is far lower – and that often means we find it more difficult to exist in our own marketplace and foreign marketplaces,” he said.
The IP Health Check seems particularly sensible, Moreland said, because British companies tend to “under value” their innovations.
“Businesses often look at IP protection from a purely technical merit point of view, rather than a more correct business merit point of view,” he said.
Scottish voters will decide in September whether the country should be independent of the UK.
Asked whether Scotland will still be governed by the IPO if it becomes independent, Moreland said: “I would hope that a lot of the IPO and European Patent Office work in getting businesses to use the IP system is common throughout the UK and Europe ... so I think we need to maintain a common and cohesive approach.”
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