IP tips for smaller businesses

23rd July 2021
Written by: Richard Gibbs, Marks & Clerk

Richard Gibbs
, Partner from Marks & Clerk wants SMEs to appreciate just how valuable an asset IP is when it comes to driving business growth, and has provided top tips for small businesses who want to learn more.

Top Ten Tips:

Appreciate the value of IP

Strong IP can be the key to capturing the attention of investors so never underestimate the value it can bring to your company and its innovators.

Learn the basics

IP takes many forms so make sure you know the difference between patents, trade marks and designs. 

There’s no ‘one size fits all’

Think carefully about your innovation/technology and its IP needs.  You may require more than one patent application as well as brand protection (trade mark) and a design registration.

IP should never be an afterthought

Plan ahead. If you’re preparing to take a product to market, don’t put IP to the bottom of your list.  Look into what protections you need to put in place at the earliest possible stage – never wait until the last minute and try and rush a patent application just before launch.

Don’t risk infringement

Remember that your IP doesn’t necessarily give you freedom to operate so make sure you’re not going to infringe third party IP. Check in advance.

Be thorough when it comes to rights

Ensure all necessary legal agreements are clear about what rights are owned by whom.

Guard your ideas closely
Never disclose ideas before you submit a patent – statements, whether verbal or written, offline or online, could count as public disclosure which might jeopardise the novelty of your application.

Protect yourself overseas

If you have ambitions to export overseas, do your homework. You may not be infringing anyone’s rights in the UK but it is essential you do those same checks in other countries where you might trade. Equally important is ensuring you’re protected within those jurisdictions.

Consult the experts
IP protection is a minefield so take expert advice – getting it right can reap rewards while getting it wrong can be costly.


Getting the right IP protection is worth its weight in gold so when you’re planning your budgets, be sure to factor this in and know what you’ll need to spend.

Marks & Clerk were sponsors of the Innovation of the Year in the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2021.

If you would like to find out more about collaborating with a university or college, funding opportunities and IP, more information can be found here.