I innovate, what IP rights do I need to take into account?

You are working on an innovation and want to market it. However you are aware of the fact that doing business is not something you do in a vacuum. It goes without saying that you will want to find out who your competitors are, how the sales channels are set up and what the prices are like. Another very important step involves gathering information about Intellectual Property rights. It determines your position in the market as well as the scope of your business.

The following information is important in this context:

  • Is my innovation novel or does it already exist?
  • Which (comparable) innovations are protected by Intellectual Property rights and which ones are not, as yet?
  • Which players in my market have patents?
  • What is the validity of these Intellectual Property rights?
  • What is the geographical coverage of the existing Intellectual Property rights?

Based on the answers to these questions you can determine if, and in which countries, you can enter the market with your innovation without infringing.

There are different ways of going about gathering the necessary knowledge.

Look for patents

When working out an innovation in more detail, the first question you should ask yourself is: how innovative is this idea? Perhaps it already exists. A patent register is a good place to find out. Here you can to see if a patent already exists and if someone else has beaten you to it. You may find out that someone else had roughly the same idea as you, but developed it differently. That is relevant too.

You can conduct the initial search yourself, but should really call in the help of a professional once you have done that. After all, a patent attorney knows his way around the patent databases like no other.

Get an overview of the IP landscape

With the aid of an IP Landscape we gather information about all the Intellectual Property rights in your sector. This will give you an idea of your competitors' rights and the scope and opportunities for your innovation. It is a good first step when you want to enter a new market.

Carry out a safeguard investigation or Freedom to Operate analysis

In the case of a safeguard investigation we focus our attention on the details of your product. That is because your product is made up of more components and techniques than the actual innovation itself. Those components may already have Intellectual Property rights attached to them (for an example, click here). We use this investigation to gather information about those rights and minimise the risk of infringement and you wasting unnecessary time, money and energy.

Come up with a work-around/design-around

Research may show that your product is covered by a patent held by one of your competitors. If you still want to compete with them, you could consider making some minor changes to your product. We refer to this as a work-around or design-around. In that case you continue to develop your innovation but in a slightly different way so that you do not infringe the scope of protection of the patent in question.

To be absolutely sure of this we can carry out a non-infringement analysis for you.

Dispute validity of a patent

You do not always have to accept the fact that your competitor has a patent. Sometimes it can be useful to dispute the validity of that patent.

Depending on where the patent was granted, or where the granting procedure of a patent application is being handled, you have the following options:

  1. To submit a Third Party Observation during the granting phase of the patent application.
  2. To contest the validity of a patent that has already been granted in court or with the patent granting body in question. For example in revocation proceedings or an opposition.

We recommend that you gather information about your position in the market at an early stage. It will help you adequately anticipate or respond to the challenges in your market and ensures you do not make any unnecessary investments.