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Innofy IP
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Thanks for your comments, Johny.

Perhaps your “many” contacts received poor advice about the value of their IP and how to extract value from it? To suggest that small businesses cannot benefit from their intellectual property is definitely not a view I share.

I suspect that most your examples refer to patents (because they seem to relate to the protection of the actual product). However, they don’t sit quite right to me.

Manufacturing a patented product in an alternative market, and selling or distributing in Australia, would still infringe the relevant patent. So – this isn’t really a problem. If someone is doing it in a market you have no protection in – then it presumably isn’t commercially important to you (or perhaps a mistake was made!).

Developing new products with “enough difference” to avoid infringement is possible. But a robust patent would be directed to the new functioning of the technology – so developing a new product is not straightforward. Certainly, any credible patent attorney would advise a client on the scope of their patent when discussing the available options. We would certainly not consider filing a patent application envisaging claims that could easily be avoided by a competitor (unless there was an overarching commercial reason to do so).

Finally, the idea that registered IP is worthless unless you can afford to enforce it is unfounded. Although I often hear this or similar comments bandied around – in my many years working as an IP attorney, I don’t actually think I have ever heard of a start-up filing a patent application with a view to enforce it! There are countless other, and arguably more important, reasons to register your intellectual property. This is a good idea for a blog post – watch this space!!

I certainly don’t want to bore you with all of the reasons why protecting your IP is important – but as a single example – a trade mark application for your company name is almost an essential tool in the establishment of a new business. This is because a trade mark provides you with a legal right to actually use your business name. A lot of people don’t understand that simply registering your business name and domain name doesn’t actually ensure that you are free to use that name (only a trade mark can provide this security). Time and time again clients come to me after registering their business name only to receive a letter from a trade mark owner of the same phrase – kindly requesting they stop using their much loved business name. A trade mark really does do more than simply stop any others from using your name (and for only a couple of hundred bucks – I can’t think of anything of better value!).

I’m afraid that I’m not entirely sure what you mean about revolutionising the back-end of the intellectual property system – but would appreciate your further comments on this. Are you aware that IP is a legal right, and that legal rights are typically administered independently by each individual country (just as all legal legislation is)? I’m not sure that it would even be possible for a single company to have much success in reinventing the global intellectual property system!! But how I wish we could! :)

In saying that – please rest assured that we have a lot going on behind the scenes (not yet advertised) to make sizeable change as to what is possible in the industry! I wouldn’t underestimate what we intend to do as just being Mickey-mouse minor alterations like the pre-filling of a form.