It is an underappreciated fact that virtually every business generates Intellectual Property (IP). Recognising that and identifying the IP generated are important first steps on the path through the (sometimes puzzling) maze that is IP. Without a good map, you can be lost before you even get going.
Fortunately, Government funding is at hand for your IP Audit report. Through the IP Audits Plus scheme, innovative businesses can have access to funding typically up to £2500 incl. VAT for an audit of their IP position. It is well worth contacting one of the IPO’s partner support schemes – see below, if you think it could be for you.
Mewburn Ellis LLP is one of the firms of patent and trade mark attorneys that can provide IP Audits under the government scheme. The IP Audits are conducted via the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
What is an IP Audit?
The IP world undoubtedly has its complexities. And those complexities are daunting when starting out. Is IP right for my business? Can I use IP to benefit my business? Should I? How much will it cost? Would it be cost-effective? Is it critical? Or could it be a “nice to have”? Where should I focus my efforts and resources for maximum impact? Where might I be making problems for my business? These are all good questions and, luckily, all questions that an IP Audit could address.
An IP Audit provides a touchstone in the IP world for a business to refer to. IP strategies and options are plentiful and wide ranging – from no IP registrations, through a single focused IP right for a specific purpose all the way to strategies of global reach taking many years to implement and develop.
All IP Audit reports should be a starting point towards an IP strategy and implementation. Our IP Audit reports are always focused on the benefit of IP to the business. Not just “what IP could you get” – the answer often being “plenty” if you want it. But rather the focus is one of what should you consider benefitting your business and why – either immediately or in the longer term. IP is, after all, a tool, rather than an end of itself. Lose sight of the purpose, and it is easy to become bogged down in low relevance, costly, and time-consuming endeavours. An IP Audit report is a first step in avoiding that eventuality. We will work with you during the IP Audit process to understand your business model closely, and your commercial aspirations, to give you a report that is useful, relevant, and focused.
To these ends, an IP Audit is, in essence, a review of the IP assets (registered and unregistered, existing and future) of your business and should provide advice and guidance towards identifying and maximising the value of that IP. It is also intended to help ensure that potential IP assets are identified and properly managed. The IP Audit report will explain the what, the why, and the how.
How do you get an IP Audit?
You can apply for an IP Audit only if you are engaged on one of the IPO’s partner support schemes. They are Innovate UK Edge (formally Enterprise Europe Network) the Welsh Government, and Scottish Enterprise [including Highlands and Islands Enterprise]. At the partner scheme your nominated contact may suggest to you that they are suitable for an IP Audit.
If you go ahead with the IP Audit, your nominated contact oversees and submits an application to the IPO on your behalf. If the IPO accepts the application, you choose an IP Professional to conduct the IP Audit. Mewburn Ellis LLP is one of the Government’s approved providers for conducting IP Audits.
What do you get?
An IP Audit conducted by Mewburn Ellis LLP will cover a wide range of areas. For example:
- identification of what IP you currently have
- explanation of what potential you have for registering that IP
- discussion of potential issues involving other people’s IP
- a guide to costs involved with taking further action
- an introduction to IP capture and strategy
- how your IP, registered, registrable, or otherwise, can support and help you to achieve your business plan
Our experience is that the form of an IP Audit report is flexible. Like IP in general, it’s not a one-size-fits-all project. The report can focus on different areas of the business, or even on a particular issue, if that is what is appropriate in the circumstances. A business in which branding is the key business driver will not receive an IP Audit report from us that covers the same areas in the same detail as a business with an engineering focus.
Of course, an important factor is that the UKIPO will pay most of the bill. At Mewburn Ellis LLP we will always work within the typical total £3000 incl. VAT limit. So, IP Audits we provide through the IP Audits Plus scheme will not come at extra cost to you beyond the typical contribution – usually £500 incl. VAT of the total £3000 incl. VAT.
Remember: the UKIPO IP Audit report funding comes with a deadline attached. The completed IP Audit report must be submitted to the UKIPO to meet this deadline. In certain circumstances the deadline can be extended, on request to the UKIPO. But nevertheless, time should be allowed to prepare and finalise the report ahead of the deadline. It is best to begin the IP Audit report process as soon as you have the funding agreed.
Do you already have IP Audit funding agreed and you are looking for an IP firm to help with conducting your report?
We can help. Contact us below, and we will be in touch to discuss how you could proceed with Mewburn Ellis. We can explain the next steps.
Where else can I look?
You should take a look at our IP guide for the innovative SME. You can download a copy here. This should give you plenty of ideas around IP, things to think about, and how you might use IP in a practical and pragmatic way.
Please contact us for more information.
This information is simplified and must not be taken as a definitive statement of the law or practice.