IP at the Manufacturing Stage

IP at the manufacturing stage

Whether you are a start-up or an established company that uses innovation to stay ahead of your competitors, launching a successful new product can be likened to doing a jigsaw puzzle: all of the different elements or pieces need to fit together in the right way, many of the pieces are linked in some way to one or more of the others, and intellectual property (IP) represents the piece that completes the picture. In this blog series, we look at how IP is intertwined with all of the other pieces of the jigsaw, and why you should consider IP throughout the product innovation cycle, and this week, we will look at IP at the manufacturing stage.

Manufacturing is the stage at which a product finally comes to life and, after many months or even years of planning, designing and re-designing, this is an exciting time in the journey from concept to market. That said, it can also be a daunting stage and one in which speed to market remains key.

Choose the right manufacturing partner

The right manufacturing partner is the key to the success of your product, and before you embark on the process of selecting your manufacturer, you will need to have a manufacturing specification for your product, which is a complete representation of the product which provides any suitable manufacturer with the right information for production.

Even with the right manufacturer, this can be a very frustrating phase. There can be up to 18 main stages of work you are likely to progress through, but do not compromise on shortcuts that may create bigger issues further down the line. Bear in mind that, often, you will have to choose between quality, cost and time to completion, so make sure you know which are most important to you.  As these elements will effectively contribute greatly to your USP(s) this will also help to guide your branding and marketing strategies and define your most valuable IP.


You should, by this stage, have filed (at least) your UK patent application (if appropriate), but it is still wise to have an NDA in place with any manufacturers you speak to. 

Other intellectual property that needs to be considered at this stage:

Trade Marks

It is important that, by the time you reach the manufacturing stage, you have your branding finalised, including any brand name and logo(s).  You may want to put your logo and/or brand name on the product itself.  You will definitely want to use them on your packaging, and also any marketing materials set to go out during, or shortly after, the first manufacturing run.

What is most important is that you make sure you are free to use your chosen brand name in the territories in which you intend to make commercial use of it.  We strongly recommend that you have trade mark searches performed before you commit to the expense of packaging and marketing resources, because having to re-brand and re-package if a problem is identified later is usually much more expensive than doing the trade mark searches sooner rather than later.

You may want to consider registering your brand name and/or logo as a trade mark in your important commercial territories, to give you the means to prevent others from using the same brand name/logo in those territories.   You don’t have to do this before you use the trade mark(s) in any given territory, but it is wise to do it sooner rather than later, just in case a third party slips in and registers something similar in the meantime, that could a) prevent your own registration, and b) even potential enable them to stop you using your trade mark in that territory.

Another thing to be sure of at this stage is to ensure that you own any copyright in the logo and any other marketing materials created for you by an external agency.

Registered Designs

Another thing worth considering before the manufacturing specification is completed, is whether or not to consider registered design protection for the product in its final form. This can provide powerful protection for the appearance of your product, and unlike patents, can be put in place quite quickly to guard against copies of your product entering the market very shortly after yours. Not only can this severely affect your own sales, but if the copies are of poor quality your brand can also be badly damaged.

Safety Standards and Certification

Not strictly IP, make sure that you inform the manufacturer of any particular standards or certification that your product needs to comply with and, ideally, select a manufacturer that is used to working to the standards of the countries where you plan to sell your product.

Need Help?

If you need any help with these, or any other IP, issues, please do book a free initial consultation by emailing vicki.strachan@strachanip.co.uk or visit our website at https://strachanip.co.uk/contact/

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