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This article was first published in the Western Morning News Fast Growth 75 supplement, click here to read the full article.
Long gone are the days when businesses paid lip service to their intellectual property rights.
Many of the Fast Growth 75 companies simply could not operate without active management of their IP rights and close attention to those of their competitors.
Chief Executives and Finance Directors working with senior managers and experienced IP practitioners can deliver outstanding shareholder returns by defining and implementing a clear strategy for their company's intellectual property rights.
The way one does this and the type of IP that you protect and defend varies sector to sector.
For example, many business to business product and service providers may have limited need to engage in brand lead activity as their competitive edge may be defined by patents copyright or secret know how. By contrast, a consumer product company or retailer would focus much more on trademarks, designs and copyright.
The important point is to have a clear understanding of what you are trying to do and get experienced help in delivering that on an ongoing basis.
Innovation tax strategy is a burgeoning area of work. The UK has fantastic tax breaks available for research and development activity, and if you file patents or hold an exclusive licence there is the possibility of paying significantly lower rates of Corporation tax on profits earned under the "Patent Box" regime.
The IP Team at Ashfords has also seen a significant upturn in the innovative use of IP defence and enforcement insurance policies and better conditions for enforcement of IP rights both in the UK and in markets such as China, where IP rights were not previously respected.
A lot of our work involves assisting successful fast growth companies in handling IP issues overseas and overseas companies coming to the UK. It's fantastic to see the growth of the companies in the Western Morning News and the commercial success that they are enjoying. Every single one of them will know how vital IP is to their business.