Companies working in the fields of batteries and energy storage often have a wealth of intellectual property (IP). Protectable IP can be found throughout the components of a battery, such as in the electrodes, electrolytes and separators, and also in the methods for producing these components.
Recognising this and identifying exactly what your business has created are important steps for navigating the (sometimes puzzling) maze that is IP.
Fortunately, Government funding is at hand for your IP Audit report. Through the IP Audits Plus scheme, innovative businesses – including those focused on energy storage and batteries – 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.
Our Battery Tech team at Mewburn Ellis has extensive experience working with innovators in the energy storage space – from the components of individual cells, through to broader considerations relating to battery architecture, power supply and distribution, or delivery infrastructure projects.
Mewburn Ellis is also 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?
While the IP world surrounding energy storage undoubtedly has its complexities, having an understanding of your IP landscape can give your business an important commercial advantage. Considering which IP rights benefit your business to what extent, and how much those IP rights will cost, is essential to deciding how to allocate your business’s efforts and resources for maximum impact. An IP Audit could be valuable in answering such questions.
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 on what would benefit your business and why (either immediately or in the longer term). IP is, after all, a tool, rather than an end in itself. Lose sight of the purpose, and it is easy to become bogged down in costly and time-consuming endeavours of low relevance. 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 and your commercial aspirations closely, in order to give you a report that is useful, relevant and focused on your needs as a business in the batteries and energy storage space.
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 with 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 that you 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 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
In our experience, the form of an IP Audit report is flexible. Like IP in general, it’s not a one-size-fits-all project. We tailor our reports to meet the individual needs of businesses. 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 that focuses on manufacturing lithium-ion batteries will not receive an IP Audit report from us that covers the same areas in the same detail as a business in which branding is a key business driver.
Of course, an important factor is that the UKIPO will pay most of the bill. At Mewburn Ellis, we will always work within the typical total £3000 incl. VAT limit. So, IP Audits that 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 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.
We have also published a special report on Battery insights & IP trends for more information about the innovations, challenges and developments of businesses in this technical field.
Our expertise in the energy storage space, combined with our commercial focus and pragmatism, means that an IP audit from Mewburn Ellis can help you to make the most of your IP assets.
Please contact us for more information.
This information is simplified and must not be taken as a definitive statement of the law or practice.
This report demonstrates how innovation is blossoming in all areas of the battery ecosystem driven by both pressures and incentives; and how patents are playing a big part in protecting inventions and forming one branch of a wider commercial strategy.
Whether you are aiming for an exit strategy through investment or acquisition, or to grow and further establish your business, IP can play a key role. Perhaps you have some experience of IP but are you unsure if you're making the most of it? Perhaps you have no experience of IP and would like to understand how you could use it to your advantage?
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