Knowing Your Competition
When your company devises a new ‘piece’ of IP, whether it is a new potentially patentable solution to a problem, novel design, unique trading name/style or original copyright-protected content, it is important to know whether it is genuinely new or whether some other company has thought of the idea before. If your idea is not new, depending on the type of right and scope of protection, you may not have rights to use it.
It is best to know the facts as early as possible before significant sums have been invested in development so that you can decide whether to pursue your current line of activity or rethink it. This guide examines both freely available and paid commercial services for searching patent, trade mark and design databases (as copyright does not require official registration, similarly comprehensive databases do not exist for it).
As well as considering how you can use them to determine whether your idea is novel, what protection might be available for it and whether your activities might infringe on anyone else’s IP, the guide discusses strategies you can employ to determine if a third party is using your IP without permission.
Once you are familiar with database searching, you will find that these services can also be used strategically. They can help you identify new areas where your innovation efforts could be profitably focused, get a better idea of what your competitors are planning, and find new potential customers/suppliers or distributors for your products or services.
If any of the intellectual property terminology used in this report is unfamiliar, you may find it helpful to refer to another guide in this series —Safeguarding Your Competitive Edge.