Month: April 2022

Intern v intellectual property – who owns what?

Let’s set the scene. Your business is your baby – you’ve helped it grow through the early stages; watched it mature as the years go on; and finally, you’re letting it go off to venture out on its own – it’s now time to sell. The date is set, the value is right, and all that’s left is to sign the papers – but the buyer starts asking questions about whether the business truly owns the intellectual property (IP). It becomes clear they’ve done their IP homework. Confusion fogs your mind, and you start backtracking, trying to remember who worked on the IP – it was only your employees and that *lightbulb moment* INTERN! The fog begins to clear, and you remember where you went wrong.

A common mistake people make when developing their company’s IP is forgetting who worked on it. The general rule is that the creator of IP owns it and therefore using it without their permission can result in infringement. This can lead to all sorts of headaches, not to mention costs, which is why it’s so important to take measures to prevent ever reaching this situation.

Despite what you may hear, it is all about status, but not in the hierarchical sense. If the intern has the status of ‘employee’, this is less of an issue as an employment contract can act as an assignment document, transferring any IP produced by the intern, during their course of employment, to the company. 

However, if the intern does not have ‘employee’ status, which is usually the case, then special care must be taken before they create any new IP. Interns carrying out research and development should sign a contract before starting which clearly expresses that any IP they create will belong to the company. If they’ve already started work, as soon as it is practicable, you should ask them to sign an assignment document which will transfer any IP they have created or will create in the future to the company. It is also wise to have interns sign a non-disclosure agreement/confidentiality agreement to protect the business’ commercially sensitive information.  

Interns are a valuable resource, they’re a way of identifying future talent, and they help the business grow. It is therefore imperative that work they do during their internship belongs to the company and steps are taken to ensure things don’t go awry.

Business IP Blog

IP & SMEs:  The importance of protecting your business intellectual property

Intellectual Property (IP) is one of the most valuable assets of a business, yet most SMEs do not invest time and money into making sure that these valuable assets are protected from a legal standpoint.  As a result, they may find themselves involved in legal disputes with other businesses for trade mark or copyright infringement, or suffer financial loss due to employees and contractors retaining IP or giving it away.  In this article we discuss the important role IP plays in SME growth and how to make sure your business is getting the most out of your IP.

Identify your IP 

The first step to ensuring your business IP is protected, is identifying your existing and potential IP.

This can be done using helpful free tools such as the IP Health Check or the British Library Business and IP Centre . However, one of the best ways to identify your IP and its value is via an IP Audit.  This comprehensive assessment is carried out by legal professionals who identify the IP assets in your key products and services and the legal rights associated with them, as well as any conflicting IP already in existence which may cause financial or legal issues for your business (e.g.  a competitor’s registered trade mark) now or in the future.  

IP audits also help identify existing IP in potential new markets or territories.  Identifying these things at an early stage, could help avoid future wasted cost and disruption.  

How to protect your IP 

Once you have identified your IP, it is important to identify the best way to protect it.  Whether you need to protect your brand by trade marking your logo or patent a new invention, securing your IP fosters business growth and earning potential in the competitive market.   

While some IP rights such as copyright do not require registration, others like trade marks and patents require official registration through government IP offices and may need to be renewed from time to time.  The easiest way to manage your registered IP is by working with IP professionals who understand the formalities and official requirements.

Do SMEs need to protect their IP? 

Unfortunately, most SMEs think that they are not big enough to start thinking about their IP.  However, a 2019 EPO/EUIPO study found that SMEs that apply for patents, trade marks or designs are 21% more likely to grow and succeed than those that don’t.  An updated 2021 study found that less than 9% of SMEs owned at least one of the three main IP rights (patent, trade mark or design) meaning most SMEs are not making the most of their existing IP.  

Getting Started

Securing IP is the foundation of business growth. Protecting your IP not only gives your business a competitive advantage but allows you to profit from those wishing to access your IP using licences and royalties. 

If you’d like to learn about the role IP plays in your business, please get in touch with Des Burley from Burley law who is an IP specialist and works closely with the UKIPO to help businesses and entrepreneurs understand and secure their IP.  

Des will be hosting a webinar on World IP Day (Tuesday, 26 April) to discuss the importance of IP and innovation.  All are welcome to attend and learn about the important role IP plays in building your business.  

IP Webinar


Why does the tax year start on 6th April 2022?

Have you ever wondered why the tax year runs from 6th April to 5th April? It is odd that it doesn’t follow the regular calendar year (starting on 1st Jan) like most other things. But why is this?

The story is somewhat confusing as it involves The Virgin Mary, Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory VIII. But we are going to attempt to simplify it…

So, to begin with the tax year used to run from 25th March to the 24th March and this was because the 25th March was Lady Day – 9 months before Jesus was born. Easy enough to follow so far. 

At this time the Julian Calendar was being used and there were 365.25 days a year (increasing to 366 every four years i.e. every leap year).  However, this was inaccurate, as a year was actually 11 minutes shorter than assumed. It’s getting a bit tricky now.

To fix this, the Gregorian Calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory VIII in 1582 which said that only if the year was divisible by 400 will it be a leap year, making a year 365.2425 days long. 

The UK was a bit slow to catch up (taking nearly 200 years) and because of the delay, they were 11 days out of sync. And to fix this, they just skipped 11 days (making Wednesday 2nd September being followed by Thursday 14thSeptember). But they also didn’t want to miss out on tax, so they added 11 days onto 24th March, making the tax year end on 4th April.

Then comes the year 1800, which was supposed to be a leap year according to the Julian Calendar but not to the Gregorian Calendar (it wasn’t divisible by 400). Again, not wanting to miss out on any tax, the UK added an extra day making the tax year end on 5th April instead. That wasn’t too hard to follow…

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