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For Scottish companies operating in international markets, it’s essential to safeguard your intellectual property.

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Leveraging intellectual assets such as brand, reputation and IP in new markets is core to ensuring international success.

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Martin Layton outlines the steps needed to safeguard your intellectual assets when trading overseas
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“Taking steps early on to ensure that trade marks are free to use and secured in target markets can make the transition to operating internationally easier and avoid costly disputes that leave firms unable to use their marks on products for export” advises Martin Layton, intellectual assets (IA) specialist at Scottish Enterprise.

Safeguarding your intellectual assets

“It’s integral to protect your intellectual property (IP) and confidential information adequately in agreements with overseas partners such as distributors” he advises. Ensuring that all contracts and agreements adequately protect business critical intellectual assets – typically accounting for more than 80 per cent of your business value – is equally important.

When entering a new market, companies should act as if they are beginning a new business. This is the advice of Nikolaus Sennhauser, project manager of Bright Idea Scotland – a government-funded service for lone investors. Bright Idea helps to identify and confirm the commercial potential of new products and services, offering guidance on IP for early-stage ideas and complementing the work of our IA Specialist team.

Commercial potential and intellectual property

Adopting protection strategies which are in line with your risks and ambitions is the best way to insure your business against danger, Sennhauser advises. Gaining an understanding for the local market place, evaluating the commercial potential of your product and planning your ‘new market’ approach will help you formulate your IP strategy. By undertaking some research, you’ll be able to develop an IP strategy tailored and appropriate for the target market and your ambitions.

Exploiting intellectual property

David Fulton, Director of Scotland-based patent and trademark attorneys Lincoln IP, stresses how various forms of IP can be exploited to provide commercial advantage for an SME. Patents, trademarks and designs all figure highly. 

“All three of these systems are equally important to consider” he explains, “though there is a tendency for SMEs to focus predominantly on securing patent protection. The weighting of these systems is also dependent upon the commercial sector within which the SME operates”.

Patent law

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What forms of IP should you consider to trade successfully overseas
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To get round patent law, it’s also essential for SMEs to employ the services of a patent and/or trademark attorney. But whilst all patent attorneys have an awareness of trademark issues, there is often a reluctance to advise in this area. It’s best to find an attorney who is also a Registered Trade Mark Attorney. Adding this element not only cuts down on complications but can add significant value to your company.

According to David, there has been a sharp increase in demand for IP services in Scotland – testament to the success of our business environment. “Demand for our services has increased dramatically since our establishment in 2007 without any real noticeable issues caused by the recession”. Nikolaus agrees – there have been a constant flow of enquiries from people with budding business ideas in the year since Bright Idea Scotland opened.

It’s never been so crucial to safeguard your intellectual property against risk. And at Scottish Enterprise, we have the resource to help.

Explore and export

Planning to enter new markets? Our IA specialists can give you practical guidance, when you need it.

How to manage your intellectual assets

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