Birkett Long: Protecting the Director
Intellectual Property (IP) Law can help gain competitive advantage post-Brexit
It goes without saying that having good advisers – including legal advisers – helps with the cementing of competitive advantage. What I want to explore in this article is how my area of law – Intellectual Property law – can provide companies with tools of great power. Tools which could be utilised to overcome or circumvent the obstacles posed by this new relationship, or in other instances used to counteract some of the pain caused by the changes.
Most businesses don’t realise they own intellectual property, and they probably don’t appreciate that it can be used as a means of generating revenue and reducing tax payments in a post-Brexit trading environment.
Whilst a high-tech manufacturer might produce patentable innovations or path-breaking registrable designs, most service providers produce work which attracts copyright. Practically any business with a name also has a trademark, which may be registrable.
So, how do we exploit these IP assets?
This question is now more pertinent than ever. We are in a world where physical products have become encumbered by tariffs and administrative delays. The ownership of a monopoly over the making or using of a product or process in all or part of Europe and the rights to which may be sold or licensed, provides a handy way of avoiding having to move physical objects around – the continuation of trade by other means.
In other words, instead of selling the items directly, it is possible to sell the right to make the item in return for a fee. Likewise, a famous British brand might be licensed overseas, dispensing with the need to ship the products bearing the brand to a given export market, because the products could be made there, with brand attached.
Hire a legal company with experience
If licensing is the destination, then the journey comprises the identification of assets and in many cases the subsequent registration of those assets. Birkett Long’s Intellectual Property department has a great deal of experience in both these tasks. We register intellectual property assets worldwide, including in all major markets, such as Europe and its constituent countries, either directly, or via our network of skilled agents.
If you do produce a product and it is either patented or could be patented, then it is a good idea to look at the government’s Patent Box scheme, which has been running since 2013. The benefit of this scheme is that profits coming from patented products benefit from a lower corporation tax rate of 10%.
Whatever shape our relationship with the EU is in the future, East Anglia, and particularly Suffolk and Essex with their busy ports, are the gateway for the UK’s business into Europe. It is up to us to capitalise on this advantage, whatever the political weather.