4 minute read • published in partnership with Albright IP
Insight: Capturing innovation
It has been said that the heart and soul of a company lie in its creativity and innovation. But how do you make sure you are capturing and protecting your company’s creations and ideas? It’s not just about securing innovation protection – important though that is – as Robert Games from Albright IP explains…
Taking the right steps to protect any innovations developed by your organisation is increasingly important at a time when securing a competitive advantage is ever more challenging. If you’ve developed a new product that has the potential to increase sales and profit, then the last thing you want, is for your competitors to get ahead of you.
The first thing to recognise is that innovation could be intellectual property which can be protected. But how do you identify those ideas that are deserving of such protection, and at what stage should you apply for it?
Put processes in place
The key to innovation capture and IP protection comes down to careful management and getting a proper process in place which can become part of your overall business strategy. This is very important for engineering businesses or any company involved in research and development.
Identifying and protecting innovations at the right time, can mean the difference between securing 20 years’ patent protection for your product or seeing that idea slip into the public domain, where anyone can adopt and run with it.
This is because once an innovation has become public knowledge, you will not be able to secure a valid patent for that idea. This can be a problem with overly keen sales teams, who want to promote the work of their company in order to secure interest in products before they’re protected in law.
Ultimately, IP is the one thing that can stop your competitors copying your ideas or trying to create similar products.
Communication is key
Failing to capture invention generally happens when people are working in separate teams or independently. This means that different parts of the company may not be talking to one another and can lead to someone accidently disclosing an idea or innovation.
This is why, having a process where conversations can be held between the teams and everyone understands the nature of any new ideas or product developments, is really important. It’s also a good idea for the R&D team to be in communication with a patent attorney.
Positivity breeds innovation
It’s also about developing the right culture within your organisation. If you have a company which is innovating, then a positive ‘day to day’ culture should be instilled to encourage discussions around how innovations are both celebrated and handled.
One idea is to consider an employee rewards scheme that pays out once registered rights such as patents and registered designs are secured. This type of scheme can help encourage people to think about innovation and the value of a company’s intellectual property.
So how do you capture innovation?
Details of inventions and designs should be recorded and documented. Ideally, each innovation should be graded to show its relative potential and importance to the company. This will make it much easier for your legal team and patent attorneys to understand the importance of the technology to the company and advise you on protection.
Here at Albright IP, we routinely provide our clients with disclosure forms, where they can set out all the details of the idea, what problem the invention addresses or solves, the steps that have been taken to overcome issues, and how the solution was arrived at.
This helps us to advise on patenting, whether it should be pursued and whether national, European or international patents should be sought. It may also be that other aspects of IP protection could be valuable for protecting your brand, such as registered designs, trade marks and copyright registrations.
These steps are all key, particularly if you are claiming R&D tax relief, because securing a patent is evidence of an inventive step, which is essentially overcoming a technical problem or difficulty and part of the HMRC R&D qualification test.
Capturing innovation and safeguarding your intellectual property is important. It gives you a competitive edge and secures future income. Your innovations really are your company’s lifeblood, so make sure you take all the right steps to keep them safe.