Whites IP Ltd

24A Carnatic Road, Liverpool L18 8BZ

0151 7 246 246 or  +44 151 7 246 246 from outside UK

mwhite@whitesip.com     www.whitesip.com

[Meetings by appointment]



Registered & Unregistered Designs

Trade Marks & Service Marks



What we do



We help individuals and businesses protect their inventions, brands, designs and copyright. We also advise regarding freedom to operate matters, given that rights held by others can sometimes be asserted against the unwary and it is not usually a legal defence to argue lack of knowledge. We have a high success rate in obtaining patents, registered designs and registered trade marks for our clients. We handle UK, European and International applications ourselves. We liaise with overseas associates in respect of applications outside the UK or EU.



The value of intellectual property



Intellectual Property can be very valuable, not only as a deterrent to others, but also because it can be licensed, franchised or assigned. Many of the world's most successful companies (e.g. Apple, Dyson, Coca Cola, Toyota, etc.) have reached the position they have primarily because of their intellectual property. Indeed this is often worth far more than the physical property owned by these companies. For example, Mc Donald's Corporation runs a franchise operation without physically owning most of its restaurants. Its most valuable assets are its trade marks.



Intellectual property is also often one of the main drivers behind the growth of smaller companies. The value of a company can increase signifiicantly if it holds relevant intellectual property, as can be seen, for example, in the case of Google and Facebook. Conversely, if it does not protect its own inventions, designs or brands, competitors can take advantage of these and significant sales can be lost.



Intellectual property is useful in providing increased credibility and reassurance for customers and potential investors. If a valid patent is granted then this means there is a genuine invention. Similarly, registered trade marks and registered designs are also useful indicators that a business is distinctive and should be taken seriously. In contrast, a lack of protection may result in a business being taken less seriously than would otherwise be the case. Thus it is important for all sizes of business to protect their intellectual property.



Technical and commercial areas



We handle inventions in most fields. Our director, Martin White has worked in patent departments both in industry and private practice and is acquainted with a wide range of technical fields. The majority of our patent work deals with mechanical inventions or with inventions in the biomedical fields. However we have dealt with many inventions outside of these fields and have obtained protection for them.



We also deal with trade marks, service marks, registered designs, unregistered designs, industrial copyright and related matters, including common law rights (such as passing off). Indeed a single product may be protected by a range of intellectual property rights and it is important not to undertake an unduly narrow assessment.



Rights held by others



We also advise on rights held by others. Even if you are granted a patent this provides no guarantee you can sell a product covered by the patent without infringing rights held by others. It is always possible that competitors may have intellectual property rights (e.g. other patents, designs or trade marks) that might be used against you.



Thus, whilst it is important for clients to seek to protect their own inventions, designs and logos, it is even more important to avoid infringing valid intellectual property rights held by others.



It should be noted here that not all intellectual property rights that are granted are actually valid. Indeed, on close investigation we find that a significant proportion are invalid. We have helped clients on many occasions by providing arguments that rights they are alleged to have infringed are actually invalid. In any event it is important at an early stage to check that rights asserted by others are actually in force and are in the correct name(s). Sometimes they are not. We can make these checks and can arrange searching for relevant rights to try to reduce the risk of infringement. We can also advise on designing around rights held by others if this seems necessary.



Oppositions, appeals, watches and third party observations



A significant amount of our professional time is spent on oppositions and appeals, especially at the European Patent Office. There is a nine month opposition period following grant of a European patent during which it can be attacked and knocked out for all countries (known as a "central attack"). This can even be done anonymously. Thus if a competitor's European patent might cause a problem it is often a good idea to file an opposition to try to knock it out. If the opposition is successful this is usually far more cost effective than having to litigate before national courts.



Prior to grant, it is possible to file submissions to try to prevent a patent being granted. This can be useful if the Patent Examiner has missed key arguments or documents, which is not unusual. This period is particularly important in alleging lack of support or lack of clarity of the claims, given that these objections are not available to granted patents.



It is useful to set up searches and watches at an early stage in order to be in a position to take appropriate action in time. We can organise this, either in respect of key competitors or more generally.



Summary of what we do



We help in obtaining valuable intellectual property rights for clients and in reducing the risk of clients infringing rights held by others.