Intellectual property problems loom large for small firms
The Federation for Small Businesses is concerned about the potential for their members to lose out when it comes to protecting their intellectual property and are hoping that the government will start to take the issue seriously. With as many as a third of small businesses relying on the value of their intellectual property for the majority of their revenue, the FSB are keen to ensure that they are able to assert their rights when it comes to protecting the assets associated with their businesses.
The FSB has conducted a survey of 1,000 of their 200,000 members and discovered that a third of them rely on their intellectual property rights for between 75 and 100 per cent of their turnover. Around the same proportion have had to spend time and money on securing their rights in the last five years, with one in five spending £5,000 to ensure that they are adequately protected.
One of the most worrying facts to be revealed by this survey was that around twenty per cent of those who had spent money did not believe that that the investment represented good value for money. This may be because around a quarter of those businesses that had made the effort to protect their branding and product designs with patents still suffered a violation of their IP rights.
Competitor copyright infringement was the main problem suffered by the businesses surveyed, with as many as half experiencing problems on that front, whereas 34 per cent suffered from unauthorised use of copyrighted material from their websites.
Whilst the Intellectual Property Office do offer their services which are supposed to help their users to resolve this kind of problem, the FSB has discovered that many of their members find them hard to use. This could be why a third of small business owners who had experienced a theft of their intellectual property took no action against the perpetrators, according to the survey.
This is despite the fact that the IPO offer a mediation service and the existence of the IP Enterprise Court’s Small Claims Track. Small businesses confirmed that they were unwilling or unable to take action because of the prohibitive costs of doing so and the lack of awareness of the resources available to them.
The FSB believes that mainstream acknowledgement of the problems small firms experience protecting their IP could be vital to allow firms to thrive and continue to contribute to the economy. For anyone who is concerned about the administration of their business, removing any concerns about your finances can be a huge weight off your mind. Our guide to the Flat Rate VAT Scheme can help you if you want to understand how to save money, and our take home pay calculator will give you an idea of how much you will actually have in your pocket at the end of each month.
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