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Intellectual Property Revolution – Book Launch – Video Highlights

IP Revolution Book Launch 1

The Intellectual Property Revolution, my second book, was launched with great success on 13 October 2015 at the Institute of Directors in London.

For those of you who were unable to attend the event the next best thing is to watch the videos of the night.

Daniel Priestley of Entrevo, who runs a global entrepreneurship accelerator programme known as Key Person of Influence (that I myself have attended) gave the introductions for the night.

He also took us through the ages pointing out that at one time it was ownership of land that enabled people to build fortunes, these people built themselves a reputation and became influential. Then after this agricultural age came the industrial revolution where people built their fortunes by  owning the means of production. In the digital economy it is intellectual property that is the means to building fortunes. He said millennials would rather spend all their time and money to build start-ups  than purchasing houses or land.

 

Next up was Will Critchlow of Distilled, CEO of a digital marketing agency based in London with offices in the USA. He reinforced the importance of using the right name and protecting intellectual property rights very early on, an issue he himself had encountered at the early stages of his business ventures while at school. Intellectual Property, in particular securing a trade mark helps provide businesses big or small with strong foundations to securely expand and build a reputation they establish. This will strengthen branding strategies becoming real investments rather than failing later on.

 

 

Then finally, I spoke about the importance of taking early IP advice in order to position yourself for maximum value if you succeed, and reduce the risk of disaster. When overlooked, IP can be damaging to the core features of any business. For example, a poor choice of name can be a real set back. This is something I discuss in more detail in my blog Intellectual Property Value – Do You Need Specialist Skills to Value IP?

IP is so important to any business, as the internet now dominates our daily lives, it is the ownership of these intangibles which is so necessary to protect. At Azrights, we offer a fixed price service that provides early stage businesses with comprehensive advice concerning Intellectual Property rights and strategic building of them.

 

There was a chance for guests to mingle over canapes and here are some vox pox and highlights of the event. The vox pox discussions give some insight into why attendees believe IP is so important in today’s society.

While the highlights below will give you a general flavour of the eventful evening.

Since the launch, I have revised the conclusion of the book, as this was a chapter I struggled to write last year. At the time, I wanted to finish the book so I used something. However, having had time to  reflect over the festive period, I have changed the conclusion, and am now very happy that the book will be an easy, insightful read for businesses interested in IP.

The new conclusion fits much better with the book as a whole being a kind of synopsis of the book and summarises the transformative effects of Intellectual Property rights. If you don’t have time to read the whole book, you’d now get a strong indication of what the book is all about by reading just the conclusion and perhaps revisiting the book when time allows.

Intellectual Property Revolution Book Launch Highlights

IP-bookWe celebrated the launch of my second book, the Intellectual Property Revolution at the Institute of Directors on 13 October. Below is the video highlighting the event.

This was 3 years after my first book, Legally Branded, was launched. Two excellent speakers – Daniel Priestley and Will Critchlow – supported me, and the guests included many clients. Those attending ranged from entrepreneurs and business owners to branding agencies and start-ups.

The book became a bestseller in the Intellectual Property category on Amazon even before the launch, and has remained in the top 20 Kindle charts ever since. It also occasionally hits the number one spot for paperbacks too, and my other book, Legally Branded, is now also enjoying spectacular success on Amazon too.

Take a look at the video highlights of the launch, where some Azrights clients explain why IP is important to them.

 

Daniel Priestley, co-founder and CEO of Entrevo said “I genuinely believe that we are going through times that are revolutionary. We are reorganising the way in which the world works. Intellectual property is the new home ownership. Millennials have said that they’d prefer a start-up to a home. A lot of people who, had they been born in another time, would have been buying houses are now throwing their time and energy into creating start-ups and intellectual property. So it stands to reason that they want to know how to identify, value and protect their IP.”

While Will Critchlow, co-founder and CEO of Distilled, an online marketing agency, emphasised the importance of getting IP advice at the outset. As he put it, “if they end up having to rebrand because they infringe on another business’ IP, they can lose all of the hard work that they’ve built up.”

I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of the reason for the success my books are enjoying on Amazon is down to this fantastic video I had produced before the launch of the book. Take a look and let me know what you think of it in the comment box below.

Do you need to bother with trade marks?

Since writing my book, Legally Branded, a number of business owners have thanked me for making this fundamentally important subject of intellectual property (particularly trade marks) understandable.

Some entrepreneur friends have even suggested I emphasise the risks, and danger of ignoring intellectual property advice. However, I’ve always tried to steer clear of scare mongering as a tactic to raise the profile of intellectual property, preferring to work with those clients that “get” the importance of intellectual property. Our clients are the ones that get it, even if they’re not in industries where IP is obviously critical to their success. They value their IP from the moment they start their businesses as did our client Headspace, for example, who are doing great things to make meditation accessible.

I recently attended a meeting with a business owner whose mind was firmly made up that there was no point paying expensive lawyers to give advice on IP. I had agreed to meet with him at the request of his marketing manager who understands the importance of IP and hoped that someone more aware of the ins and outs of IP may be able to persuade his boss. However, this business owner’s views did not shift one bit as a result of our meeting mainly because he talked far more than he was willing to listen, and his mind was already made up. So, I know better than to try to address those whose minds are already made up that they know all they need to know about IP.

This is for readers who are curious, or undecided

This post is for those who may be curious, or who are still on the fence about whether it’s worth bothering with trade marks. While it’s never a good idea to generalise about who does or does not need IP, I will stick my neck out and say that if you’re a lifestyle business (by which I mean you’re aiming to earn a livelihood and are not trying to build a big business or one you can ultimately pass on or sell) you can ignore trade marks. You’re unlikely to come to anyone’s attention, or pose a threat to existing trade mark owners such that they would want you to rebrand for infringing on their rights. Even if someone did require you to rebrand, chances are it will just be an inconvenience to change your marketing materials and rename the business. You won’t have a name that attracts business, so could rename the business without suffering a drop in activity. Similarly, if you’re setting up a business and want to first see if it will take off, then you MAY, depending on your business idea, be able to use a temporary name, or take a chance with the name you want to use (provided you’re willing to change it if the advice is that you would do better to choose an alternative name), and see if you can get anything off the ground before worrying about trade marking. But for everyone else, it would be really foolish not to get trade mark advice from a specialist lawyer on the name you’re using.

Trade marks may be revoked

Trade marks can be cancelled, so even if you’ve secured a trade mark registration it doesn’t mean you’re all right to use that mark. That’s why it’s misguided to do your own registration work, just to save on legal fees. You may end up getting a registration, but it may not be for a mark that is capable of generating brand value. You may not have an adequate scope of coverage, so that although you’re registered, it may not protect you if someone were to challenge your rights. For example, registering a logo with a totally descriptive name – that is, one that describes what the business does – is easy enough to secure. However, it’s an extremely poor choice of branding.

The law protects businesses against various unfair competitive practices, and helps you fight off competitors who use similar marks to yours, but you have very limited recourse with a descriptive name. Using a descriptive name or a name that is otherwise incapable of being owned by you as a trade mark, leaves you wide open. You will lose business that may have been intended for you, and you will have a business that is far less valuable than it might have been had you selected a legally powerful name. This is the reason you should always consult your own IP lawyer on any name your branding professionals help you to choose, unless they are willing to take responsibility for its legal effectiveness.

Keyword rich names probably best avoided 

Also, take a look at the blog I wrote about Google’s recent algorithm change, which makes it even more of a poor decision to use descriptive names now online. The writing is on the wall, so I would avoid choosing keyword rich names too when branding your business online. The slides from my talk at Make It Big in 2013 also discuss descriptive names more.

Get legal advice

Even though you get some protection in this country just by using a name, don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. For example, if someone registers a Community Trade Mark they can stop you using a name you’ve been using, or limit you to using it only in a certain geographical area. Why court the vagaries of litigation with all the cost implications when you can secure your rights in a name you’re getting recognition with, by paying ten times less?

Trade marks and legal advice should not be dismissed as too expensive to bother with for anyone who has a viable business. They are an investment, and are the foundation for licensing and other ways of monetising your products and services. In particular, don’t wait till you have reached certain turnover targets, because trade marks are fundamentally relevant to any business that aspires to be more than a lifestyle business. Your business name is what the law protects when competitors behave unfairly. So, trade marking is good business practice and isn’t just about whether you intend to become a brand, or think that if you sold your company whoever bought it would want to use your brand name.

Misunderstanding IP

There is a lot of misunderstanding about the relevance of IP, and huge generalisations are made about its costs. But given that there are many different IP rights, of which trade marks are just one type, it’s foolish to dismiss them all as too expensive. Knowing how to implement procedures to protect just one of these rights may be the critical element to your business success after all.

I think the problem is down to the complexity of IP law. We are still in a transitional period between an industrial economy and a knowledge economy. Consequently knowing how to deal with the physical things, the tangibles comes easy while intangibles that you can’t feel or touch, are less well understood. Intangibles are our knowledge, our brands, our digital content, and more. By their very nature, they are easy to lose. Being transient, and non-physical, their legal significance can sometimes be overlooked or misunderstood.

Scrabulous and other high profile cases

The fact is that it can be difficult for lawyers to point out the benefits of IP except by pointing to situations where there have been well known incidents, such as with Scrabulous, which I discussed in a post recently. Those of us IP lawyers who prefer to focus on the positives, won’t therefore want to keep pointing out the dangers, but I have outlined a number of scenarios in my book Legally Branded, which should help you better understand the risks. Don’t assume that just because big businesses like Apple resolve their IP issues, that you will do so too. People should know that for smaller businesses, the scenarios they hear about in the news about the Googles, Microsofts, Apples of this world would put them out of business because they would not have the resources to get themselves out of trouble.

So the moral is if you are a small business without access to huge sums of money to litigate your way out of  trouble then you absolutely need to make sure you avoid the problem in the first place by getting professional advice to register your trade mark.

Also, if you’re going to ignore IP protection, you need to know what you’re doing. It could in some cases be rather like deciding not to bother with the foundations of a house you’re building. In television programs like Grand Designs, the participants who overspend may end up not having enough money to do all the fine design details they had wanted. Their  lack of funds means they have to compromise on the surface issues like designs. They can’t compromise on the very structure and foundation of a building. Unfortunately, the opposite approach happens in business when IP is ignored. People can spend a fortune on the surface things like branding and websites while ignoring the fundamentals.

Distinguish IP from other legal work

While there are some legal issues you can and should skimp on in the early days of a business, IP isn’t one of them. Note that IP is very often a contractual matter, and isn’t just about registrations. So, take advice to see how to minimise your IP expenditure in a safe way if you think spending on IP may seem a waste. Some business owners question any expenditure which doesn’t enable them to make money (such as learning a new marketing trick would increase their  chances of generating revenues). However , think of IP as what enables you to keep the money you make, and in some cases to continue to earn revenues. So at the very least you absolutely have to take advice in order to develop your strategy for IP.

A Name is Where Your Brand Both Begins and Ends

At the recent launch party of the book, Legally Branded, I mentioned the importance of building a brand that is not only distinctive and powerful, but bulletproof.

One of the most important places to start is with your brand name. A name is where your brand both begins and ends. It is the first thing customers hear when they discover your business, and the last thing they remember at the end. Given the importance of the brand name, it’s vital to own the rights to it in order to avoid the expense and disruption that would arise if you had a passing off or other dispute.

The name has a number of hurdles to overcome. Not only must it be durable and unique, but the name must also meet the legal standards laid down by trade mark law, and not be too similar to another registered trade mark. Being too similar to an existing trade mark could expose the brand to risk, even if you’ve registered the trade mark.

SMEs who register their own trade marks tend not to get a legal opinion on their name unaware that it’s possible to secure a registration even if it conflicts with an existing mark, or that it’s possible to register quite non distinctive names if they’re combined with a logo. So  a trade mark does not necessarily mean your brand name is sound. The registered owners of similar marks could object years after you secure registration. They may only bother to object if you become a successful business. So, if you’ve never had a legal opinion on your name from a brand lawyer it’s crucial to get a legal view.

This is why our time limited offering may be of interest.

Our Trade Mark Ally product is on offer at a massively reduced price. It supports you to do your own trade mark registration in a safer way by having some professional input on key issues. Included is a search and legal opinion, and help to identify the classifications in which to file your trade mark. There is video guidance to help you to draft your own application, and we even glance at your UK trade mark application before you file it on the registers to pick up any glaring errors.

So, if you take up this time limited offer you could use the search and opinion element on an existing registration if you have never had an opinion, or use it to find out about a name you are thinking of using. You don’t need to want to register your own trade mark for the service to be valuable to you as you’d be hard put to find a search and legal opinion at the price we’re offering the Trade Mark Ally product.

This product has been popular and we’re only offering a maximum of 30. So, buy it now if you’re interested and want to take advantage of the early bird rate. You could even gift it to a friend, or better still tell a friend who might benefit from it. Not only do you get the Trade Mark Ally product, but also a few valuable bonuses. Click here to read more about the product and everything that is on offer.

George Hadwick’s IP Rap – The Legally Branded Book Launch

Legally Branded was released at our successful launch party at the British Library on 11 September. The night was a blur of activity, filled with networking the chance to take part in an IP quiz, in order to learn something about IP.

George Hadwick then gave an incisive and impressive summary of the event! He succinctly summed up the book, Tibor Gold’s introductions, Shireen Smith’s speech, and Jeremy Philips’ talk, as well as key take home messages about Intellectual Property in the form of a rap. Here is a video of it:

As the sun lowered in the London skies

We gathered – a room full of legal eagles and KPIs

To celebrate the launch of a vital tome

To which I shall try to do justice in this? poem?

For those who want to ensure they’re  legally branded

Azrights’ Shireen’s got the key understandings

In a demanding world where history’s a brand new page

With the internet blurring the edges in a digital age

You must make sure your business has solid legal foundations

With an IP plan to gain wealth from your great innovations

So Engage with Shireen’s three step directive

For an IP plan that’s the most cost-effective

Way to maximise your IP and guarantee it’s protected

Step one – know your business objectives

Next step is, determine your IP needs

Everything from brands and trade-marks to licensees

And step three, you got implement your plan

I’m told innovative law firms such as Azrights can “Give fixed prices for any legal work an SME needs So you can have certainty about the overall fees”

But we didn’t come here to see me read a book

So right about now let’s take a look

At the content rich talks from our feature speakers

What a privilege to witness such industry leaders

Introductions by Tibor who’s easily persuaded

Using Russian dolls to illustrate the points he’s making

Stating that in IP Jeremy needs no surname at all

Because whatever the question he’s the guy you call

Ingenious inclusive and everything in between

Talking on what branding innovation could truly mean

Jacket off and nearly so much more

As he proceeded to talk about pawn

And thankfully the other chess pieces as well

The key message he came to tell

Is that pawns are vital in the wider game

When they get to the end everything’s changed

Jeremy states the UK’s pawns are our SMEs

Who in time become foundations of our economy

Harrods, Clarks and our national library

We’re all themselves once little SMEs

But presently, our government’s inability to act

Means the power of UK IP seriously lacks

We can fight back by moaning, or honour Shireen

Cos she’s brought substance to political lip-service dreams

Shireen caught Tibor’s attention by her courage and passion

Because her own practice she was determined to fashion

She began by expressing her deep gratitude

For tonight’s attendance by all of you

In truth IP’s a right you can have for intangible things

Use it right and significant wealth it brings

But know it’s not something you automatically own

And in the digital age the competition has grown

So honing a brand is absolutely essential

And trying to define it at times might send you mental

It’s a way of standing out and meeting a need in the market

You don’t need the logos and visuals as soon as you’ve started

But once established, you’ve got to get the IP sorted don’t follow scrabulus and get your apps aborted

Advice should be sought right from the beginning

Build it in from the start and you’re sure to be winning

Listen IP is what can give you that stand out brand

That can spread far beyond the shores of our land

Having a descriptive name can be a temporary fix

But once the business is viable, then rebrand quick

Stick to a strategy that’s coherent with your

IP plan And Don’t be afraid to let Shireen take you by the hand

And guide you through the minefield of brand creation

Launching her branding consultancy – truly a cause for elation

So be taking the opportunity to seize your free consultation

You’ll be on the way to a great IP situation

So…how do we wRAP this legally branded rhyme

Well I hope this is the book you’ll have in mind

Anytime you need to ensure your business is seen and known

Or you want reap the benefits of the IP seeds you’ve grown

Shireen’s shown – if you want a legal team to execute your plans right

You better get legally branded – and talk to Azrights

And don’t leave tonight without this wisdom pearl

Ideas are more powerful than all the armies of the world

So ensure yours are protected and you earn what you deserve

Cos it’s about more than a name – it’s your gift to the earth

Find out more about George Hardwick by visiting his website www.GeorgeHardwick.com

Legally Branded Book Launch Speech by Shireen Smith – Branding and Intellectual Property in the Internet age

Shireen Smith’s  speech was delivered at the launch party of the Legally Branded book which was held at the British Library on 11 September.

I wrote the book Legally Branded because I believe every business deserves the best possible chance to succeed. Understanding how and why intellectual property (IP) law is relevant is an important aspect of that.

I’m not going to go into what IP is in this talk beyond saying that it is a type of right you can have in certain intangibles, such as logos, websites, names of a business’ products and services and so on. If you own an IP right it is an asset which is potentially valuable if the underlying business succeeds. IP rights also give you the freedom to do what you like with the intangibles they relate to, such as to sell them or license others to use them.

There’s a myth in entrepreneurial circles that everything a business generates is its Intellectual Property, but that is to use the word in a very loose sense. You may well not own the Intellectual Property rights in something even though the idea for it emanated from you. To own IP rights it’s generally necessary to take certain steps early in the creation process, and in the case of names, to choose names that meet certain standards laid down by the law. The notion that you automatically have IP and once you’re ready you can protect it is a dangerous one and can give you a false sense of security.

The world is changing rapidly as we move from the industrial to the information age. Companies employ fewer permanent salaried staff, and instead collaborate with other businesses and consultants when they need to handle bigger projects. It’s more and more common for people to set up in business on their own. And although the Internet revolution has reduced the cost of launching new businesses and products, competition is much increased. With globalisation we’re all competing with people from far flung economies like India, and China. For many of us there’s always somebody else who can do the same work as we do for less. So, success depends on differentiating our businesses and finding ways to position our products and services so we stand out. That invariably means branding a business. But even branding isn’t necessarily enough. The challenge is to brand your business so well that you are heard above all the noise.

However, what stands in the way of businesses achieving an effective brand is that it’s not well understood what a brand is, and what’s involved in getting one. An internet search for ‘branding services’ produces every type of business imaginable: advertising agencies, design firms, marketing consultants, management consultants, communications consultants, PR firms, digital agencies and so on. While the perspectives of a number of different disciplines need to be taken into account to have a successful, enduring brand, you need to know when to use which service. By analogy to a recipe for a dish, the secret to a successful outcome is in knowing which ingredients to use, in what order and quantity. It can be challenging for a business to know who to turn to when they want to brand their business. A widespread mistake is the assumption that branding is a “look-and-feel” exercise. However, a brand is essentially about having a successful business proposition that meets a market need, so the visual identity, though very important ultimately, is not the first aspect of the brand to focus on. Initially, a low cost design using 99designs is a sensible option for most businesses. The priority is to work out how to position the business among the competition and to understand the customer’s needs.

As far as IP is concerned there are many misconceptions. A widespread one, even within the branding industry, is that the legal aspects of branding can wait till after the branding project is complete. This is one of the biggest traps for the unwary and the single most important reason why I wrote the book. The law plays a fundamentally important role. If you don’t take account of IP law very early on you run all sorts of risks such as of ending up with a far weaker brand than you might otherwise have achieved, and also of infringing on the rights of others.

Scrabulous was an app created by two Indian brothers that allowed people to play a scrabble like game online with friends anywhere in the world. It was a huge hit attracting 600,000 users per day when in 2008, Hasbro the owner of the Scrabble trade mark shut them down due to trade mark infringement. The founders had even applied to register a trade mark for their name, clearly unaware of the wide scope of protection that trade marks give. Had they consulted a brand lawyer they will have realised the choice was unwise. Facebook simply removed their app, despite the fact that it had gone viral. This paved the way for Zynga to create what is now a highly successful Words with Friends app. The brothers’ advantage of being the first to build a scrabble like app on Facebook was lost, and we will never know how big Scrabulous would have been today if it had opted for a better name.

Scrabulous is a high profile example of what I see happen all too often. I’ve known businesses that have spent thousands on a logo and sophisticated website, only to be derailed by a legal issue which could have been avoided had they consulted a brand lawyer. It’s essential to build IP law into the creative process early on. Larger companies are by no means immune to these problems. It often happens in organisations that a brand is developed to an advanced stage and the legal department is either only consulted in the middle of a project or at the end by which time it’s too late for the lawyers to have much impact. The business is the loser, as it wastes money and resources, and either has to rebrand and start again or, more likely, ends up with a far weaker brand than it could have achieved had it taken IP into account sooner.

You see IP is relevant not just to avoid disasters or to help you to own IP assets. Taking account of IP when choosing names, music, images, shapes, and so on is how you can create a stand out brand. Coca Cola’s enduring and powerful IP in its iconic bottle didn’t happen by chance – they’ve carefully managed their IP from the early days a 100 years ago.

Naming the business so it is memorable involves a good understanding of trade marks. The name forms the foundation of the brand and in the digital age having a good, memorable name is crucial. An early priority should be to trade mark it as it forms the foundation of the brand. I discuss names in the book as people are often unsure how to marry the need to have a distinctive brand name, with the fact that Google rewards keyword rich, descriptive names.

For early stage businesses descriptive names are a good option as a temporary solution to delay the need to trade mark. In the book I use the example of a fictitious business, the Time Management Company which provides time management solutions, and is rebranding to get a distinctive name. Many famous brands started life with a different name and the quiz (available here on Legally Branded) highlighted two such businesses. However, once the concept is proved you should rebrand as soon as possible if you started out with an unsuitable name or low cost design solution.

I recommend every business even at proof of concept stage invest in an IP plan. That’s the way to find out about IP issues that are relevant to your business and industry. An IP plan helps you to put in place a strategy that’s in line with your business plan. You can then budget and prioritise based on the likely IP costs, and your overall objectives. With an IP strategy in place you’re then in a good position to recognise IP issues that arise day to day, and know how to handle them. You can avoid spending money chasing the wrong legal protections. For example, people assume patents are the most important IP to protect. I’ve known of an early stage business that spent its entire budget on a relatively unimportant patent, unaware that its brand and copyrights should have been prioritised, and that there are alternative ways to protect ideas. The thing is if you go to a patent attorney with something to patent, you’ll emerge with a patent. Without an IP strategy you have no clear way to know what to do when IP issues crop up for you. The IP plan gives you a chance to explore your options so you can reach decisions that reflect your business aims. There is a specimen of the type of report we produce for you on the Azrights Legally Branded Product page as well as further information about our special offer this week. It’s competitively priced as it’s a relatively new service. You get advice tailored to your business. Our special offer this week includes a free consultation on your brand name issues too.

Over time we have seen many clients come to us unaware of their real intellectual property needs, or too late to avoid wasting money on an identity that won’t help them to succeed. Seeing these mistakes, and writing the book, has helped me to realise that branding and IP is a minefield for many businesses, and we have an important part to play in helping businesses with branding as well as IP. Therefore, we’re currently developing a branding consultancy service to facilitate branding projects by helping clients to have a joined up approach to branding so they can transform their ideas into a brand with minimal wastage of time and resources.

We’re looking to collaborate with businesses offering the various skills that branding entails, such as marketing, design, advertising, digital, communications etc. If that’s you, please contact me. We work with a range of clients, from companies with their own in-house legal departments, to start-up businesses. This is the beginning of a new era for Azrights,, and we’ll be looking for someone dynamic to help drive our new branding consultancy forwards.

I’m known for making the law clear and through Legally Branded aim to make brand law accessible for entrepreneurs and business owners. As an IP Lawyer and business owner myself I am well placed to help you manage your branding projects so you get a brand founded on sound IP principles that is powerful, distinctive and bullet proof.

To listen to attendees at the party watch the Legally Branded vox pop video on You Tube .  (To read the contents and chapter one of Legally Branded go to the Legally Branded page from which you can click through to Amazon.)