Creativity is a continuous activity for every small business: always seeing new ways of doing things with little concern for how difficult they might be or whether the resources are available. But creativity must be combined with the ability to innovate, to take the idea andmake it work in practice.
There are many pathways to advice and information on aspects of innovation for your new business. Many of these will be very particular to the sector that your business will be operating in, whilst others will be more general.
Networking is one of the powerful tools for learning of new ways of doing things - and is also the cheapest. Many of the agencies listed in this Guide are in a position to help you further in developing new ideas, products or services.
if you are looking to research a new product or service, then the institute of technology tralee (www.ittralee.ie) will be able to provide assistance. Additionally, other organisations including enterprise ireland (www.enterprise-ireland.com), and the industry research and development Group (www.irdg.ie) will offer assistance.
it is very likely that your business idea has some elements that you consider to be unique. These are sometimes called unique Selling Points (uSPs), and will serve to differentiate your product or service from your competitor’s.
Your business ideas will be commercially very important, and you should consider how these might be protected. Depending on the nature of your business, valuable ideas can be protected using patents, trademarks, and copyright legislation.
If you invent or design a new product, then patent protection will legally prevent others from copying your product. A patent will give you, for a limited period, the right to exclude others from exploiting (making, using, selling, importing) your patented invention, except with your consent.
Your patent is a form of ‘industrial property’, which can be assigned, transferred, licensed or used by you. Patents are territorial, so an irish patent is only valid in ireland.
Irish patents have a maximum life span of twenty years. Ireland also offers a ‘short-term’patent,which is valid for amaximumof ten years. To maintain a patent in force, annual renewal fees must be paid each year from the third year. ‘Patent pending’ is used on products to alert competitors that an application has been made to protect the invention.
You can legally register a trade mark or logo that uniquely distinguishes your business, service or product fromthose of your competitors. registered trademarks are legally protected, and it is illegal for anyone else to copy them.
The trade Marks Act, 199 defines a trademark as ‘any sign capable of being represented graphically, which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking fromthose of other undertakings’. A trade mark may consist of
words, (including personal names), designs, logos, letters, numerals or the shape of goods or of their packaging, or of other signs or indications that are capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of others.
Copyright describes the rights given to authors/creators of certain categories of work. Unlike patents and trademarks, there is no formal requirement to register creativework. The responsibility for proving ownership rests with the creator in the event of a dispute over ownership.
Copyright protection extends to the following works:
The owner of copyright is the author, meaning the person who creates the work. For example a photographer is the owner in the case of a photograph. However, as copyright is a form of property, the right may be transferred to someone else, for example, to a publisher.Where an employee in the course of employment creates the work, the employer is the owner of the copyright in the work, unless an agreement to the contrary exists.
Copyright is a property right and the owner of the work can control the use of the work, subject to certain exceptions. The owner has the exclusive right to prohibit or authorise others to undertake the following:
Copyright takes effect as soon as the work is put on paper, film, or other fixed medium such as Cd-roM, dVd, internet, etc. No protection is provided for ideas while the ideas are in a person’s mind: copyright law protects the form of expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves.
If you are thinking about starting a services business it could be that intellectual property is of greater importance than physical product. intellectual Property, on the other hand, is the product of your mental efforts. its value lies in its appeal to others who might wish to use it, or the goods it describes.
Your creativity and innovation can be owned in much the same way as physical property. intellectual property rights allow originators to control access by others to the products of their creativity and, thus, benefit from it. It will often not be possible to control this access and benefit from it unless the intellectual property rights have been applied for and granted, but some intellectual property protection such as copyright arises automatically, without any registration, as soon as there is a record in some form of what has been created.
Further information on all of the above can be obtained from:
Patents Office, Government Buildings, Hebron Road, Kilkenny
Phone: 056 772 0111