Monday, 1 January 2007

Protecting your ideas from risks

Shropshire companies are being urged to protect their work when it comes to business deals with other firms.

Stuart Haynes, of Martin Kaye Solicitors in Euston Way, Telford, said that at some time up to 70 per cent of directors had been known to risk their business ideas.

"This is known as intellectual property and is basically anything that your business creates, including an idea, a design, a work of art, or even a way of doing something that's unique.

"Anything you create in your business is yours, and should be formally protected, otherwise a competitor, or even someone you have hired to work for you could steal your ideas"

Stuart said many companies wrongly assumed that they owned the copyright on any work carried out by a third party they had hired, such as a designer.

"But if fact, if you're not careful, and if there is no written agreement, it is unlikely that the copyright will be yours, even though you've paid for the work and it's related to your business."

"This could mean the designer could sell the work to one of your rivals or even set up business themselves using those designs."

Stuart said companies could protect themselves by including a clause in their contractor's agreement which made it clear the company owned the copyright and intellectual property in anything that was produced.

"It isn't necessary to register the copyright in any original material you've created as you will have automatic protection. But you could use the copyright symbol on your business documents and include a copyright notice, which will make it clear you take the issue seriously. And if someone asks if they can use the material, agree in writing what you are prepared to allow them to do by creating a copyright licence agreement - you can also charge them a fee for using your work. Its vital that companies protect themselves from this king of issue, as intellectual property plays a crucial role in business success"