The benefits of early IP advice and guidance

Service Introduction

At Strachan IP, we endeavour to offer an ‘immersive’, rather than purely transactional service. This means that we like to get to know you, your business and your aspirations right from the start, so that we can tailor our advice and service to exactly what your business needs to thrive.

Service Overview

What exactly is Intellectual Property (IP)?

IP is the term given to a set of legal rights that allow you (as their owner) to stop others from copying your innovation and muscling in on your revenue stream. There are lots of different types of IP, registered and unregistered, such as patents, registered designs, registered trade marks, unregistered design rights, copyright, database rights, and even know-how and trade secrets. The real magic, is knowing how to put together the right set of IP rights for your business and use them to ensure your innovative product or service is properly protected.

Understanding the value of IP

Without any IP rights, a third party could simply come along and copy your product and bring it into the same market, eating into your revenue stream, and you would have no way of stopping them. This third party might be a much larger organization than yours, and this could obviously make it much more difficult for you to make a profit on your own products. They may have an existing client base/following and, of course, they may be able to offer the same product for a lower cost because they won’t have had the R&D and manufacturing overheads that you have. This is why it is so important to have the right IP advice early on and as the project progresses, so that the right set of IP right can be put in place for your product before it is launched.

Expense vs Value

Registered IP can be costly. There’s no way around that. Patent applications and (usually) registered design applications must be filed before there is any non confidential disclosure of your invention, i.e. before it launches and before you can make any money from it, although the right patent attorney will usually work with you and your budget to try and mitigate the problems this can cause. Nevertheless, it is an expense that needs to be factored in.

The dictionary definition of ‘expensive’ is “commanding a high price and especially one that is not based on intrinsic worth (, and we do tend to think of things as ‘expensive’ if we deem the cost to be more than the perceived value we receive in return. So, is IP really ‘expensive’? Or is it just that the true value of it is unknown and therefore hard to quantify?

One of the biggest mistakes an innovative business can make is to overlook their intellectual property rights.

Why? Because only your IP rights can help to stop a competitor from copying your unique selling point(s) and muscle in on your market share. Why do customers come to you and not your competitors? What is it that sets your business apart from everyone else? I always say, where there’s a USP, there is (almost) always IP, but it can only add value to your business and protect your interests if you know it’s there and how to make sure it’s enforceable should you ever need it.

Nevertheless, business owners are often put off by the perceived expense of securing and maintaining a robust IP portfolio.

Cost/Benefit Analysis

If we think of this issue purely in terms of figures, what do you think would be your loss of revenue if your biggest competitors could simply copy your USP(s) and offer the same goods/services (perhaps at a lower price because they would not have had the same overheads in developing the ideas? The answer is, in effect, at least part of the value of any IP rights that will allow you to stop them from doing that.
Having arrived at some nominal figure for this value, you can assess the cost of securing those IP rights against that value. If the former is less than the latter, then surely it’s the opposite of ‘expensive’? A bargain, even?!

And that’s without considering the hidden value of IP rights – value you may never even realise you have received.

Hidden value

A robust IP portfolio can add untold value to a business. And IP rights represent tangible assets that are often imperative when looking for funding, either by borrowing or investment. Not only that, but it sends a clear message to your competitors that you value your IP and will enforce it if you need to.

Don’t forget the deterrent power of IP

It is difficult to prove a negative, so you may never know whether or not a would-be competitor was put off copying your innovation because you had registered IP in place. In general, a legitimate business will not knowingly risk lengthy and costly legal proceedings for IP infringement. So if you have registered IP, and show a commitment to enforcing it, then it will likely act as a powerful deterrent to others who might otherwise try and muscle in on your market share.

So, is IP really ‘expensive’? Or is it just that the cost of IP seems high because the value is hidden? We would strenuously argue the latter.

Here’s why Intellectual Property is Crucial to you:

• How much does registering IP cost?

This varies greatly, depending on what your product or service is and what countries you want to cover. However, the cost of preparing and filing a UK patent application would be of the order of £4000 exc VAT except for highly technical inventions, and the cost of preparing and filing a UK registered design would normally be somewhere between £500 and £700 exc VAT (excluding the cost of preparing the drawings required).

• Why is IP so important?

It is quite simply, the only way you will be able to stop your competitors from copying your idea the minute it hits the market and, potentially, severely impact your revenue stream.

• Why is it so important to get it right from the start? The benefits of early IP advice and guidance

Registered IP refers to types of intellectual property rights that have to go through some sort of application or registration process in order to exist and they do, inevitably, carry a cost. Although there are others, the three main types of registered IP are: patents (for technical innovation), registered designs (generally for the outward appearance of a product) and trade marks (for brand names and logos).

A new product or process may be eligible for any or all of these IP rights, but when filing applications for them, timing can be key and, arguably, second only to the application content when it comes to ensuring maximum value and safeguarding your business.

There is no real ‘one size fits all’ IP filing strategy, but here are some tips on when to file applications for registered IP to best suit your business.

You can’t disclose your invention to anyone except in confidence before a patent application is filed. However, tempting though it is to get an early filing date and ‘plant your flag’, so to speak, you only have 12 months from that initial UK filing to “top up” your application with further technical detail arising from the development process and to file corresponding overseas applications (if overseas protection is needed). And 12 months is not a long time in the field of product development. Ideally, at this 12-month point, the technical elements of your product will be more or less finalised and you will have a clear (ish) idea of your manufacturing, licensing and sales strategies. So, using your product development timeline, try to work back from that point to decide on the best time to file.

Registered designs protect the outward appearance of a product, so that must be finalized before you file applications for registration.

A good patent attorney, engaged early in the process, should be able to help you with all of this, and demonstrate the benefits of early IP advice and guidance during any product development cycle.

Need Help?

If you need any intellectual property advice, please book a free initial consultation by emailing or calling +44 (0) 7714 797135, or visit our website at; or you can even use our Calendly link to book a free, no obligation and completely confidential appointment:

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