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The power of Intellectual Property

Intellectual property rights have existed from as early as c.400AD when the first hallmark was used on jewellery and cattle, to 1710, when the UK Government enacted a piece of legislation known as the Statute of Anne (better known as the Copyright Act 1710), which granted certain monopolies over printed works. Intellectual property has continued to be used in modern times, on clothing, for example with the use of the Levi’s® red label on jeans, the three-point star for Mercedes®, and the arguably iconic colour purple for Cadburys®. These are all ways of indicating the origin of goods or services, which is essential in the world of trade marks.

The importance of your intellectual property should never be underestimated and, when managed well, can allow a business to exploit its IP assets to its advantage in a variety of ways including licensing, franchising use, or assigning ownership by way of a sale.  These are excellent methods of generating revenue from intellectual property rights, provided that the rights are identified and protected in the correct way.

Every business has intellectual property rights and it is crucial that after identifying intellectual property rights, you protect them so that they can be utilised, whether it is to police and protect against infringement, or as part of any exit strategy, which could provide significant appeal to the value of your business.

This point is well illustrated by the recent acquisitions of Debenhams and parts of Arcadia by BooHoo® and ASOS®. Whilst this is an unfortunate position, and one which has been impacted by the recent pandemic, it highlights the significant value which IP can hold and that IP which is audited, properly identified and protected can provide a very valuable selling opportunity for businesses.

The information available in relation to the BooHoo and Debenhams acquisition confirms that intellectual property rights such as trade marks, database rights and pure data was amongst some of the intangible assets that were purchased as part of the sale. This is in stark contrast to more tangible assets such as Debenhams’ massive property portfolio which was excluded from the purchase.

IP Audit

It is vital for every business to carry out periodic IP audits.  These will not only identify new and valuable intellectual property rights within the business which may have been forgotten or not identified, but also weed out any intellectual property rights which have expired, are coming close to expiration, or are not worth re-investing in.

We have a dedicated team of solicitors in our intellectual property department who specialise in this area. If you have any questions in relation to the above or are considering carrying out an IP audit as part of a strategic IP review or your wider commercial strategy, please contact Riyaz Jariwalla (riyaz.jariwalla@bpe.co.uk 01242 248426) or another member of the BPE IP team.


These notes have been prepared for the purpose of articles only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

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