IP is quite straightforward when you understand the fundamentals. Get them right in your business and you can build the business on solid foundations long term.
I suggest you start by reviewing what intellectual property means because it really helps to see the big picture. When you’re not familiar with intellectual property terminology, you don’t know whether it’s patents or copyright, or trade mark that is relevant to your situation. This makes it difficult to know where to start and what to read. So a basic grasp of IP so you can identify the different intellectual property rights is essential for successfully navigating the digital environment nowadays.
Digitalisation is fast changing the world, and with it the skills we need in order to manage our businesses. The changes brought about by the internet have made IP central to every business because most assets of businesses nowadays are intangible and the legal area that deals with intangibles is intellectual property. Every entrepreneur would do well to learn the basic language of IP.
The meaning of IP terms is fairly universal the world over due to the many international treaties that have been signed between countries to enforce and protect intellectual property.
Most significant intellectual property issues occur in the early stages of projects, before anyone would even think of consulting a lawyer. And most serious IP mistakes happen because the IP angle wasn’t addressed first when embarking on projects. The IP strategy I’m advocating is to think about IP first, rather than assuming it can be protected later.
It’s clearly impractical to consult lawyers every time you have a new initiative or project. For one thing, people often want to test the water, wait and see if the project has legs before asking a lawyer for help to protect the concept.
However, as “protection” needs to happen in the early stages of projects – for example, by making correct choices, doing the right due diligence research, and taking the right actions, an understanding of the longer-term implications of your early actions when implementing new ideas is essential.
This is where procedures come into their own, as a way to protect IP.
The key to protecting IP assets invariably involves taking steps at the start of projects when new IP is about to be created. The ideal is to have a process so you don’t need to specifically think about how to protect IP.
Using processes in your business is how you can make sure you take the right actions early on in order to be protected when implementing your ideas. There is no need to consult lawyers. Seeking legal advice is often not the most practical way of dealing with IP in the early stages of projects. You can instead ensure you don’t lose valuable rights, even where the idea is patentable, simply by using the right processes.
By adopting some or all of the processes that are provided in Legally Branded, anyone can protect their IP on an ongoing basis. Just make sure your team understands the events that trigger a process. They will then be able to ensure your IP is protected even though they may not know anything about IP.
The procedures could be spelt out in an office manual or on your wiki or intranet. Then when inducting new team members train them to identify the trigger points for use of your processes.
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I was surprised to hear a while back that only a minority of students who buy online courses actually open and use them let alone finish them. That was from a respected thought leader who sells many online courses.
An article I came across recently seemed to bear this out According to this piece, although “hundreds of courses are now available from dozens of the world’s best universities and professors on the major platforms such as Coursera, edX, Udacity, and Udemy, and have attracted at least 4 million sign-ups to date, more than 90% of these would-be learners don’t finish. Many don’t even start the courses”. What’s more, those who do finish their course, don’t go on to take another one.
When you bear in mind the flexibility and other advantages that online courses offer this is extremely surprising.
The perks of taking online classes are numerous. As well as the opportunities to pick up new technical or business skills, or update old ones to advance their careers, online courses offer busy students, especially parents seeking to better provide for their families and returning students looking to pick up where they left off, a unique chance to balance school with work and family.
So why is it that those people who do finish their courses, don’t tend to take another one?
With the eLearning industry worldwide set to surpass USD 275 billion in value by 2022, according to research from Orbis, the eLearning trend is undoubtedly an important one to watch.
More and more companies are adding an eLearning component to their product suites, and many individuals are using platforms like Kajabi to create digital products based around their interests and hobbies.
It’s not uncommon for people to have little success initially but by learning how to use the platform, and better understanding their potential customers some of them achieve noteworthy success with their online courses.
Kajabi is the market leader and makes it very easy to set up a course and sell it. As a result, people are investing time and energy in learning how to use the platform so they can create their own courses, modify them and then sell using Kajabi’s inbuilt marketing features.
However, if buyers are not then consuming the courses it is clearly a problem that needs to be addressed.
Getting Buyers to Use the Courses
In my view, it’s important to focus not just on getting sales, but also in finding ways to encourage buyers to consume the course they buy from you. After all, if you ultimately want to make an impact on people’s lives, get feedback and improve your course you can’t do it if people are not using the course. Also, it takes word of mouth growth for a course to be more widely adopted, so your buyers need to be encouraged to use your courses.
As already mentioned earlier, there are many advantages to learning via an online course, notably, convenience, and the ability to go at your own pace. However, their huge drawback is that you are on your own and exposed to distractions. There is a seemingly endless array of other priorities competing for your time and attention so that it can be difficult to engage with the online material. The extreme time pressures that everyone seems to be under these days, means that unless you’re very motivated to learn what the online course is offering to teach you, chances are it will soon get forgotten and will not be used.
Perhaps people buy our courses with the intention of using them later, and then later never comes. This can easily happen when you consider that often the timing of the purchase is driven more by the special offers or other incentives sellers provide to buyers than by someone’s own availability to learn. As online courses are intangibles, it can all too easily happen that it’s a case of out of sight out of mind. How do we get our buyers to prioritise using our courses?
The Inertia factor
What I’m wondering is what difference it will make if I were to find a way to get my buyers to take that first step of actually logging in and watching the welcome video.
You see overcoming customer anxieties is a big deal. There’s almost always some friction associated with switching from one way of doing things to another. So we need to consider how to remove any obstacles that stop our buyers from using these courses.
For example, do your buyers realise that technology will not stand in their way (that is certainly the case with platforms like Kajabi) because there is no special software to download or difficult systems to learn in order to access the material. Maybe a welcome email or call to explain this might encourage them to take the first step?
While we may believe our products are so fabulous that they will erase any concerns people might have about starting something new, the reality is that consumers are often stuck in the habits of the present – the thought of switching to a new solution or habit is almost overwhelming. Sticking with the devil they know, even if imperfect, is more bearable.
Consider how sometimes people refuse to upgrade their mobile phone because they are comfortable with the one they have? This is due to the pull of the old. It requires no deliberation and has some intuitive plausibility as a solution already.
Fear Of Loss
People fear loss twice as much as they are motivated by gains. Anxieties come into play both about learning something new, but also, simply due to the anxiety of the unknown.
The new learning must have sufficient importance to cause people to change their behaviour. They need to recognise that they’re struggling and be reminded that they want a better solution than what they can currently have.
Provided the pull of the new is much greater than the sum of the inertia of the old and the anxieties about the new then people will adopt the new solutions.
Another way of putting it is that it’s difficult to get people to change their old habits. So, no matter how frustrated people are with their current situation or how enticing a new product is, if the forces that pull them to addressing their problems in a particular way, or not addressing them don’t outweigh the hindering forces, they won’t even consider adopting something new.
I’m keen to find out what the users of my course are doing about their Intellectual Property protection though, while they’re not using the course they’ve bought from me. What caused them to buy would also be really useful knowledge to glean.
What Next For Online Courses?
For now, the jury is still out on the effectiveness of online learning.
The big difference between in-person and online courses lies in how students interact with each other. You can receive your peers’ responses instantaneously in a brick-and-mortar classroom but need to wait for those who live on the other side of the country to type their comments into an online forum.
According to research people learn through a social process. The timeliness of feedback is critical for students to learn. Technology may replicate most resources of the best in-person courses, such as course materials, tests, and lectures, but it is impossible, at least for now, to replicate real-time, in person feedback from peers and teachers.
Perhaps using small group classes such as Zoom meetings where everyone can participate just like in a normal classroom setting might help?
All in all, I doubt we need to be pessimistic about the future of online learning. We just need to keep trying to do better so we improve the experience. Making changes, even to incorporate some “in class” element might have a huge effect. For example, it may be worth experimenting with giving local course attendees an opportunity to interact and meet others. Research has shown that interventions that enhance students’ interactions help them to learn better.
Putting people into accountability groups in their local area so they meet regularly with their peers to help each other stay on track and make progress on common tasks could prove valuable. Connecting with others physically is bound to make the intangible nature of a course less of a problem by reducing the feeling of isolation and disconnectedness.
Let’s hope for a better future in which everyone can become a lifelong learner as technology evolves, and breaks the limits of time and location.
Before considering a budget for services such as Outsourcing, Trademark or Patents even, I’d like to give you some pointers based on my experience of advising startups of all types over the last 15 years.
Businesses tend to change radically in the early years so that a few years after starting up, many look nothing like their initial manifestation.
Sometimes this can be because as they get market feedback on their concepts their ideas develop and they pivot. Or it may be that new businesses don’t know what it is exactly that they do, and who they do it for. Even professionals, like lawyers and web designers, who you would think know pretty clearly what they do, struggle with this.
Startups, therefore, take time to find their feet.
For this reason, I would counsel against spending too much money on anything, be it design, legal fees, or otherwise. As the business gradually achieves clarity about the demand for its goods and services, and figures out which services will generate revenue, and responds to the market, its offering and niche will change.
Early phase legal work
Early phase legal work can therefore often be of temporary benefit only.
Yet what happens in practice when a start up chooses lawyers is that a price is set for the various documents or services the lawyer considers the business needs. This might include a trade mark, terms of business, a website development agreement, documentation for the website, and anything else that is particularly appropriate for a given type of business.
The value a good lawyer can offer to startups goes far beyond the provision of documentation or a particular legal service.
It may be that you could save by using templates and do your own drafting to implement the necessary documents for your business.
One problem is how to get access to best practice intellectual property advice so as to start up your business and projects independently without need to consult lawyers about every decision you need to make as you pivot and change direction.
In fact, few businesses can afford to consult lawyers on the intellectual property issues that arise in the very early stages of their projects, such as when they’re choosing names or even when they’re commissioning websites. Either they don’t realise that so many of their actions have far reaching intellectual property implications, or it’s not feasible to incur legal fees when the project is in its infancy.
The mistake with IP is in assuming you can leave it to one side till later – such as once you have something to protect. You need to know how to make good choices, what checks to make, and which provisions to include in legal agreements you should use early on.
Over the years Azrights has realised that this requires a different approach to that of consulting lawyers in the traditional lawyer/client one to one advisory service approach.
So, we’ve created a way to deliver early support to businesses so they may protect their IP using a PROCESS BASED system which we’ve developed. This is known as Legally Branded Academy 2.0 (LBA 2.0).
This enables people, even those with no pre-existing knowledge of intellectual property, to use the system to protect their IP. You learn what to do at the point in time when you need to learn it. It’s only when a key action is about to be undertaken in a project that there is a need to apply a given process. You access and apply processes when you need them. There are different processes depending on the actions the business is about to take.
So, for example, if you have an innovation you want to patent, that’s when you would look at the processes for patents and understand what to do before approaching a lawyer for help. Or if you’re about to pick a name and domain name, that’s when you watch the videos on names and learn the numerous issues to be aware of. Names are a much misunderstood topic, even by highly successful business leaders. There are many myths and misinformation about naming.
Indeed the need to choose a name so early on in projects leads to many mistakes by business owners, sometimes with devastating consequences for the business. This is just one example of how not having best practice advice, and information at your fingertips when you need it, can result in poor intellectual property outcomes for the business.
Intellectual property has a broad meaning. It includes the knowledge and skills that are to be deployed in the business or project, or which will be turned into a business. It is an umbrella term that includes:
Registration of rights, which people traditionally associate with intellectual property, comes later and often people will consult a lawyer at that time. However, by then it may already be too late to rectify the impact of some of the early decisions and choices they’ve made.
The best way I can help you is via a 6 week group coaching program that gives you access to LBA 2.0 and 6 Zoom meetings when I will explain how to use the LBA 2.0 system in your business as part of your processes, and you will have an opportunity to ask me questions. This is the lowest cost way we’ve been able to find for supporting startups. Thereafter you may buy consultation or different services such as trade mark registration. The system gives you a number of the templates you would need to use and these templates are made very easy to tailor. So, it’s only if the other party won’t sign the document that you’d need to consider consulting a lawyer for advice.
This new process-based approach to IP protection is THE way to protect your IP on an ongoing basis as your business grows and develops.
Here is a link to the Azrights International Ltd site which is not regulated by the solicitors regulation authority, and offers the course combined with coaching. You can put your name on the waiting list if the course is currently closed. It reopens every couple of months and you will get a discount by registering your interest and will be the first to find out when the next course starts.
Being in business myself means I understand the emotional, financial, and creative investment clients make in their own future. With my insight into legal risk, I am well placed to offer you this different approach to managing your legal risks and budget.
In conclusion, the traditional approach to organising your legal work might not result in the best deal for you. What we are all about at Azrights is providing cost effective and appropriate legal solutions to help you to grow your business on solid foundations.
Copyright is a wide-ranging subject, and relevant to many creative and non-creative industries.
It is arguably the most universally relevant IP right, covering written materials, music, art, logos, and computer programs, to name a few. It protects most visual brand elements, such as logos, packaging, and websites, albeit it may also be possible to protect these by also registering some of them as designs or trademarks to secure added protection.
Copyright protects original expression, but not ideas themselves. So, if someone were to suggest an idea to you to execute, such as an unusual looking picture of a bird, or gave you an idea for a plot, you as the creator would own copyright in the picture or plot you produce,and the person who gave you the idea will have no rights to any share of it. So the person with ideas gets no copyright in the work created as a result of their ideas unless there is a legal agreement between the two parties that provides otherwise.
Can I copyright my name?
Some people ask to “copyright” their name.
People wonder whether copyright prevents them from using particular words for their product or business. Even newspapers and popular online publications make the basic mistake sometimes of reporting names as being copyrightable. In fact, names are not protected by the law of copyright. It is trademarks that protect names.
It was in a case in 1982 Exxon Corp, where it was decided that copyright does not protect names. The company unsuccessfully applied to stop Exxon Insurance Consultants calling themselves Exxon, arguing that it had copyright in the name as it had spent substantial amounts of money developing the name.
In a landmark decision, the UK Court of Appeal disagreed and took the view that it was not possible to have copyright in a name because a name is too brief. Regardless of how much investment or time is put into the creation of a name, no matter how clever it is, from a policy point of view the court decided to keep names outside the scope of copyright protection. Instead, names are protected by the law of trademarks.
Some famous examples of slogans which are also protected by trademarks are Nike’s Just Do It, and L’Oreal’sBecause you’re worth it.
What does this mean for you? Well, for names and slogans you need to turn to trademark law for guidance. While for other works, such as those outlined at the start of this piece as examples of copyright works, generally, all you need to do to own your work is to record it in some way (for example by writing it down, taking a photograph, or getting it on tape).
If you ask someone else to do work for you, for example, to develop a website, then you need a contract before you engage them, to give you the copyright, otherwise, they will own the rights in the site.
If an agency helps you to choose a brand name then unless you agree otherwise in the legal agreement between you, you will have exclusive rights to the name. They will have no claim to it.
It’s important to get an expert in trademark law to help you assess whether a name is legally effective and available. If it is, then registering it as a trademark is a sensible step to take so you own the rights to the name. This is important as you will be generating goodwill in the name.
This took several months. Part of the reason it might have taken so long is that the question was bound up with how I could turn my intellectual property work into something which includes my interest in business and branding.
I have always been interested in the commercial side of life, which is why I became an in-house lawyer at Reuters.
I’ve been very into marketing, business, and branding since founding Azrights too. So, dealing purely with intellectual property felt like I was only addressing half the issues many of my clients faced.
True some of my clients need purely intellectual property legal work. However, even they have teams to educate on IP, and there is currently no solution on the market to enable them to do this and protect their IP on an ongoing basis. So, I saw a way to add value to them that is not purely about traditional legal services, namely, via Legally Branded Academy 2.0 described below.
Those that are starting new ventures, or growing their businesses would often really benefit if I were more involved, such as with their branding.
I can add significant value in areas that are intertwined with intellectual property law. Often a deep understanding of IP is needed, and I’ve realised that a multidisciplinary approach best serves clients.
As I pondered all this, I wondered what I would offer. I didn’t see that I would add sufficient value by offering branding, so I gradually worked out that I would able to offer value by offering an online course or a one day workshop to begin the process of educating clients.
Also, I can provide a process to make it very easy for branding and other business advisers to get multi-disciplinary input into their projects.
Legally Branded Academy 2.0
Gradually over time the online Legally Branded Academy course I had been working on, turned into something quite powerful.
It’s the first intellectual property system that provides a process approach to IP protection and team training.
I’ve spent years thinking about how companies might best manage IP issues if they don’t have a dedicated inhouse IP resource, which few have You see the very early actions a business takes often have the most significant IP implications from a risk management point of view.
It can already be too late once the business turns to its lawyers to protect its IP if there is a deficiency in its past actions. Legally Branded Academy isn’t a law course, and as such is relevant to the international audience.
It replaces expensive one to one legal advice with processes which embed IP best practice and education. By implementing and using the processes a company trains team members, and protects its IP seamlessly
For example, the course includes a copyright process involving the use of a template at the start of projects to secure ownership of the IP.
As well as basic IP information, there are explanations on issues like IP holding companies, and use of IP symbols including internationally that companies need to know
There are explanations about what types of name are desirable to choose and why from a trade mark perspective. It also covers how to do basic research on a short list of names.
Marketing departments, entrepreneurs, and design agencies that only choose one or two new names a year need access to this sort of information so they choose wisely. A solid process is provided for them to follow when selecting a new name. The information includes “over the shoulder” style instructions on how to pick the classifications to search and how to do basic IP register checks. This sort of assessment of a name is vital before handing over to lawyers for final clearance searches and registration.
This is most certainly not a course about replacing lawyers or doing your own legal work. It’s simply the best way for organisations to manage IP risks and opportunities and avoid mistakes.
Legally Branded Academy 2.0 is the most cost effective way to protect companies in the early stages of any project, such as when they’re trialing new concepts, starting up new businesses etc. Following the processes gives the business ongoing day to day protection so they grow on solid foundations using processes.
They can ensure their teams learn what they need to know about IP, and save time by not needing to undo earlier ill-considered actions and decisions
Legally Branded Academy is my flagship online IP course It reflects a methodology I’ve developed to help organisations introduce simple processes to ensure their IP is protected on an ongoing basis as the business grows and expands.
IP is where the value lies
Intellectual property is invariably where the value of a successful business lies, albeit sometimes the IP in some assets may not be initially appreciated. To avoid unpleasant hidden surprises that might, for example, prevent a business exploiting a valuable asset, involves introducing simple measures to secure IP in business assets as these are created.
Legally Branded 2.0 solves the problem of how organizations might put in place solid foundations to manage their IP protection on a day to day basis. Process is the way to do it.
The final point that helped me to arrive at my purpose was down to the changes I’d made to the Azrights business since 2016 when we moved the firm towards remote working.
It’s a journey that has not been without its difficulties and I will probably end up getting offices again soon, but the move to remote working has strengthened the firm considerably and gives us new approaches which we would never have discovered without making this change.
I outlined our experience of remote working at Azrights in a recent blog and will explore this topic more in future posts given that companies like IBM and Yahoo, both big tech companies, have reversed their positions on employees working remotely.
What message does it spread to the rest of the business world, with regards to this form of working?
Although, I’ve had challenges with remote working, and recruiting the right team members, for myself personally my productivity and satisfaction has benefited enormously from remote working.
I’ve been able to fall in love with my business once again thanks to remote working, and as mentioned, it’s given me the gift of time and the freedom to get on with the task of running the business, and creating new offerings, rather than simply managing the office.
But I do understand why these large corporations have changed their minds on a practice that they once couldn’t get enough of. Not all employees are suited to remote working so remote working can come at a detrimental cost to the business.
What is for sure is that you need to work hard at building the sort of culture change that is needed for successful remote working to be effective.
Reading David Heinermeler Hansson’s book Remote it’s clear that you need to maintain good communication and ensure that employees have complete clarity as to what is expected from them. It’s also desirable to have regular physical and online meetings. Some people even suggest 3 online meetings a week, as well as short 10 minute daily ones!
New Azrights office in Hastings
My purpose is to help businesses succeed by better positioning themselves in the market, and protecting that positioning with IP protection. I want to give businesses greater security to grow knowing they’ve protected their assets and underpinned their business with intellectual property processes to protect their IP.
I’m intending to amplify my message by seeking more speaking opportunities, producing more content and creating more partnerships with other businesses and professionals.
I’ll be expanding the Azrights business when I personally move my home from London to Hastings next month.
The London office will remain our headquarters. However, we will also have a Hastings office, and this is where I intend to recruit team members.
Realising how hard it is to find people who are suited to remote working and who can be trusted to remain productive when working remotely it remains to be seen how easy it will be to grow the team.
I’ll be trying out some new ideas when I engage new team members which includes meeting every week as well as having 2-3 online meetings a week to keep everyone accountable and working towards the good of the business.
The next step now is to meet as many businesses as possible in Hastings. I would love connections to law firms, accountants, design agencies, business coaches, and others. If you know any who might be interested in our launch party do put them in touch. I’d be most grateful.
Whether you’re starting out in business, or creating new products and services for your existing business, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing things right, that your actions will set you up for success.
Unless you’re purely testing the market in a way where none of what you create needs to endure or be relied upon longer term, it pays to be mindful of the longer term implications of your early actions when implementing new ideas. If you’re thinking big and aiming to create a business to one day sell, you definitely need to pay attention to what I’m highlighting here.
Setting yourself up for success involves being aware of how assets are created under the legal system, and the pitfalls to avoid. You should aim to implement your ideas in the right way because it’s the very early decisions and actions you take before you would even consult a lawyer, that have the greatest risk from a business perspective.
Copyright is essential to understand if you want to create assets that will grow in value as your business becomes more established. It crops up in many different ways.
Aim to understand the essentials, and avoid attracting liabilities, such as by using other people’s content. Here I explain just some of the copyright basics. I’m focusing on some key concepts that are not generally well understood. However, you need to know more than this.
What Copyright Covers
There is quite a lot of confusion generally with intellectual property terms like copyright, trademarks, and patents. You need to have some understanding of these terms as they are a type of “property” that it’s possible to own, just like land. They impact every business nowadays in the digital economy.
Copyright like other intellectual property rights is intangible. That means it is a property right that’s attached to something else. So, for example, you buy a book. You will own it, but you do not own the copyright in that book. The copyright belongs to someone else – the author or the publisher.
So, copyright ownership will often be separate from the physical object. The same principle applies for intangible objects, such as a logo or website.
Clarity about the fact that copyright is separate from the physical or intangible product you may be using or having created for you is key to understanding it:
The creator of a copyright work is the one who owns the copyright in that work, and that copyright lasts for their lifetime plus 70 years.
That’s a long time. Just like any property right, copyright may be sold, left in your will to your heirs, mortgaged or licensed to others to use.
The owner of copyright is the person who can grant permissions (a licence) to other people to use their copyright work. They can control who uses it and for what purpose just as an owner of land can decide whether to rent out their property or to give others permission to use the land for particular purposes.
The types of copyright works which are potentially relevant to individuals and businesses alike include:
books, brochures and written content
films and videos
photographs, drawings, and illustrations
logos and packaging
computer programs, and games.
So to conclude this section, remember that the copyright in the objects is separate to the object itself.
What Copyright Isn’t
Not everything is protected by copyright though. For example, copyright only comes into being when a work is fixed in some sort of tangible form, such as when it’s written down.
What copyright isn’t includes:
systems, or methods,
names and taglines (this is mainly because the legal system has made a policy decision to protect these assets through the trademark system)
Copyright only protects the way an idea is expressed rather than the idea itself. This is often referred to as the idea/expression dichotomy.
So, the fact that copyright doesn’t exist in ideas has a number of ramifications.
For example, let’s take a copyright work like a food recipe, The words of a recipe are what copyright protects rather than the ideas contained in the recipe. That means if someone sets your recipe out in their book or copies and distributes it they would be infringing your copyright.
As for the ideas embodied in your recipe, those ideas are not protected by copyright. So, it is not infringement of copyright to cook whatever your recipe covers using every idea from the recipe. So, if it’s a recipe for making rabbit pie, anyone can make rabbit pie to the recipe, sell the pies commercially or vary the recipe and cook their own version of rabbit pie.
They can even publish their own recipe of rabbit pie drawing on inspiration from your ideas.
There is no copyright infringement involved as long as the recipe they write isn’t a word for word copy of your recipe with just one or two minor changes say.
So, they should express their ideas in a different way and not slavishly borrow from you.
Unfortunately, this neat categorisation has become murky due to the way some cases have been decided by the courts.
When Does Drawing Inspiration Become Copying?
Sometimes people wonder whether they might be infringing on someone else’s copyright if over many years they’ve studied a topic, attended courses, read books, and developed their own way of working. How can they be sure that it is their own “IP” that they’ve developed from all their learnings, and that they’re not infringing on other people’s copyright? Should you be giving credit where it’s legally due?
There is no categorical answer whether someone is crossing the line between drawing inspiration from a copyright work and copying (that is, infringing copyright).
At both ends of the scale, it will be very clear. So there is no copying when someone has simply got ideas and drawn inspiration from the ideas embodied in a copyright work and gone and created something of their own that is not a copy of expression of the original copyright work.
At the other extreme is where there is widespread copying of the original source, word for word copying of the majority of work.
When it is not clear cut an experienced copyright lawyer may be able to advise you, but ultimately if it’s really borderline whether there is copyright infringement or not, this is ultimately a question of fact.
There is no “ready” formula which says that if x% of a work is copied it will infringe. There have been cases in the UK where the minutest % of copying has amounted to infringement (involving music where the copied element was very distinctive of the entire song). There have been other cases where taking whole sections of a book didn’t amount to copyright infringement as it was deemed to be quite generic material that was copied.
Where a dispute arises the issue is generally negotiated between the lawyers and a compromise reached reflecting the rights and wrongs of the situation. If a matter can’t be resolved then it would go to court and a judge would need to decide the issue.
Ultimately we all stand on the shoulders of giants and there is no completely original thought. So, if you’ve developed your ideas drawing from a combination of sources then it’s more likely than not that it would be your own IP. It’s often a good idea to list your sources in a bibliography at the end of your book.
Copyright is just one of the intellectual property rights to be aware of when implementing ideas. There are in fact many other aspects of copyright that your business should protect itself again. Here I’ve just touched the surface so as not to overload you with information.
Who owns the copyright and how you secure copyright ownership is the other really important practical point to grasp about copyright and to remember to address throughout your business life. I cover this fully, in the mini-course which discusses everything you need to know about copyright ownership, how it arises, what to do to own copyright, how to manage this risk. You’d be doing yourself a favour to get hold of it.
Alternatively, if you want to discover other aspects of copyright as well as other intellectual property risks then Legally Branded Academy is the online course for you. It includes copyright ownership and much more. Find out more about it. If you buy before the price doubles in mid-2019 you’ll get access to the revised course at half the price.
People often ask the question, what is a brand, or what is intellectual property, and is a brand intellectual property. Before I answer that question let’s look at what the terms mean.
A good starting point to understanding what brand and branding mean is to note the word’s origins. It started as a term to describe the identifying mark that was burned on livestock with a branding iron. That was how people could tell who owned the cattle.
Although the concept of branding has its roots in this visual imagery it’s important to appreciate that branding has moved on considerably since those times. While the visual identity matters, of course, branding is nowadays about so much more than a logo, or visual designs. The visual identity is the final stage of branding not the first.
The Design of Your Business is Key
Branding nowadays is much more about the way you design your business than the designs you get for your business to use.
Even small businesses will have a brand. It’s not necessary to be a household name or a large business for “brand” to be relevant to you.
That’s because if you think about it, the big brands we all know and use, are all known for something specific. Every single business, charity or entity can be said to have a ‘brand’ in the sense that they all have an identity rather like you or I have an identity as people.
We have a name, a way of dressing, talking, and walking and subjects we are known for or topics that we tend to talk about.
We have beliefs and opinions, and a certain personality. In short, we’re known for something. People have a certain response to us or think of us in a certain way. So, anyone alive has an identity. The world can tell one person apart from another because of these differences between them.
In the same way, businesses also have an identity – a brand.
A company is a separate person in the eyes of the law. Even if you’re a sole trader your business identity will be an extension of you, but it will be separately identified, often under a trading name.
What you say, how you operate and so on reflects how you come across to others as a business and brand. So, every business has a brand whether they know it or not. Every business has an identity and personality and as such has a brand.
The branding process involves thinking through how to create a good business that’s reliable and known for delivering on a specific promise. As the brand acquires pulling power, it will attract customers who positively want to do business with it rather than with the competition. The brand a business establishes gradually also attracts employees, suppliers and, ultimately, investors.
Think about the associations you have when considering successful brands such as Ikea or Apple. Notice how these names are known for delivering what is often an unspoken promise. In Ikea’s case, we expect to find affordable self-assembly furniture when visiting its stores. When we buy Apple products, we expect to get something that’s well designed, intuitive and easy to use.
Every brand has its own distinct ‘identity’ and ‘promise’. It’s due to this promise that we know to expect something completely different if we buy a Rolex watch rather than a Swatch.
You will need to think through how you want your business to be known. What quality or outcome will you want to deliver consistently and reliably? How will customers know what to expect if they use your product or service so that there’s little risk of an unpleasant surprise? Buying a product or service from a business whose brand is not yet known is risky because it represents something untried and untested.
Once a business becomes a recognised brand in its marketplace, it can command a price premium or a market premium. People are willing to pay a premium to receive the expected results the brand is known for delivering.
This applies even if the promise of the brand is based on price. For example, people may still prefer to shop at Ikea rather than at an unknown shop that offers even cheaper prices, because they have certain reassurances regarding product quality and the shopping experience they can expect at Ikea.
Shopping at Ikea Carries Little Risk
They won’t have this comfort and recognition if they use an unknown seller. Shopping at Ikea carries little risk because Ikea is a brand which means that customers know what to expect from it.
A brand is primarily about substance rather than surface visual imagery. Indeed, nowadays even employed individuals and business owners need to consider their personal branding in terms of what they want to be known for.
Once you have worked out how you want to be known and sorted out your branding, get some designs to help support the overall impression and feelings you want your brand to evoke and convey.
If you don’t create a successful business that meets a market need, then no amount of ‘visual identity branding’ will turn your business into a brand.
My online course More Than Brand, helps you work through your branding including the intellectual property aspects of branding. You can even use it to work on your personal brand.
So, turning now to a definition of intellectual property, while I usually attempt to directly answer the question by defining intellectual property, I’ve realised it’s the wrong question.
Defining intellectual property doesn’t give people any greater clarity about what they’re supposed to do about intellectual property. What’ lies behind the question, “What is intellectual property?” is more important to understand here.
The real question is whether Intellectual Property is relevant to a business, and if so why? What should they do about it?
I suggest you think of Intellectual Property as something you need to address in your business because it’s the FIRST consideration any business needs to be mindful of when starting up or developing your ideas.
Contrary to popular belief Intellectual Property (“IP”) isn’t just something you deal with once you’ve succeeded and gained traction. Think of IP as risk management and taking advantage of opportunities.
IP is complex, but you don’t need to learn all its ins and outs. Instead, you just need to put in place some processes in your business to manage the risks and to make sure you don’t lose opportunities.
If you don’t cover off intellectual property, you run various risks such as:
of not owning the rights to that app or software, or to your website functionality, which your business could have otherwise exploited to generate extra revenues,
finding that the name you’re using infringes on someone else’s rights and is a liability rather than the asset it should be.
discovering that your invention can’t be patented because you mentioned it on your website,
not having rights to the data that was collected on your behalf by someone who is helping you to set up a networking group.
not owning the copyright in your own logo so that you can’t easily take action against someone who is misusing your logo.
discovering you are liable for infringing copyright in images or content on your website which your web designer is responsible for.
The value in your business in the digital economy lies in such intangibles. Intellectual property is what you need to address to protect your business.
Find out about the Legally Branded Academy as people’s understanding of what “protection” involves is quite misconceived and gives rise to the typical mistake businesses make when starting new projects
Your brand is one of the most valuable intellectual property assets your business could own. However, you should take the right actions when choosing it as the very choice itself is how you protect the brand and ensure it has a name that’s suited to its business plans. The name should be chosen in consultation with an expert brand lawyer and should be protected along with other brand elements.
Legally Branded Academy Course
In the revised Legally Branded Academy course that will be launched later this year, I’ve identified more than 15 processes that a business should introduce to manage intellectual property risks and opportunities such as the example scenarios outlined above.
It is an excellent way to train team members in the essentials they need to know about intellectual property, so they don’t unknowingly take actions that infringe on the IP rights of others.
So, for example, one of those processes involves using a specific template before engaging someone to do work for your business. By always following that process you ensure you secure intellectual property rights in assets being created for you, and in doing so you take significant action to protect your business.
The course isn’t about replacing lawyers. It’s about managing an organisation’s risks in those very early stages when people tend to make some drastic mistakes. Those mistakes happen because people wouldn’t even think of consulting a lawyer so early on.
So Legally Branded Academy Revised is a business process and risk management course.
As intellectual property concepts apply pretty much universally the world over, thanks to various important treaties signed between countries, the Legally Branded Academy is relevant no matter which country you’re located in.
If you want to protect your business now would be a good time to invest in Legally Branded Academy as the price is going to double later this year. Buy it now and get access at the more affordable price it’s currently sold for.