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IP audits and the UKIPO’s ‘IP Audit Plus’ scheme

DATE 26th November 2021

Johannes Biniok is a European patent attorney. Johannes advises clients seeking to protect their technology, particularly by means of patents, utility models and industrial designs. Johannes works closely with a diverse range of clients, from individuals to FTSE 250 companies. His work is equally diverse, ranging from gas turbine engines to subsea electrical couplings and he has recently been working on public safety measures.

The key benefits of an IP audit under the ‘IP Audit Plus’ scheme:

  • Intellectual property can make a business more attractive to investors, by securing innovation and brands as assets.
  • UK businesses can apply to the UKIPO for funding to cover some of the audit cost.
  • Further funding is now being provided to help businesses take forward the recommendations coming out of the audit.

IP audits – getting started with intellectual property (IP)

Intellectual property (IP) can help attract funding and investors, by securing a business’ innovation and brand.

Unlike other business assets, such as machinery or property, IP is intangible and therefore much more difficult to pinpoint. In addition, there tends to be a lack of awareness of the benefits that secured IP can provide.

The UK Intellectual Property Office’s (UKIPO) ‘IP Audits Plus’ scheme provides a convenient route into the world of IP, as UK businesses can apply for funding under this scheme, to cover the majority of the cost[1] of an IP audit.

Applications for funding can be made through Innovate UK Edge: https://www.innovateukedge.ukri.org/contact-us.

 

What is an IP audit?

An IP audit is a formalised process of tasking an IP professional (and sometimes a whole team of IP professionals) to review the IP of a business with the goal of identifying and cataloguing the business’ potential patents, trade marks or designs, and making recommendations for improving its IP position.

Examples of IP:

Patents

Trade marks

Designs

What are the outcomes of an IP audit?

An IP audit concludes with a final report which summarises all IP that has been discovered and sets out a recommendation for how the business can best protect and utilise its IP.

The value of such a report can be immense, setting out business assets hitherto unnoticed and so providing a better understanding of the business’s assets and, ultimately, value. Thus, the contents of the final report may well inform decisions concerning the future of the business.

In some cases, it may be beneficial to further analyse the findings set out in the final report, such as a valuation of the identified IP assets in order to put a monetary value against each IP asset.

Other further actions that may be taken in view of the final report may involve measures to protect the IP assets set out in the final report.

Funding for actioning the IP audit report

The IPO has recently launched a new IP support scheme for businesses that have completed a part-funded IP audit between April 2020 and March 2022.

The scheme provides businesses with additional funding[2] to take forward some of the recommendations provided within the IP audit report.

Further details can be found here: https://www.citma.org.uk/resources/uk-ipo-launches-new-ip-support-scheme-mb21.html

[1] Total budget capped at 3000GBP (incl. VAT); IPO contribution 2500GBP (incl. VAT); business contribution of 500GBP (incl. VAT).

[2] 5000GBP for professional fees (does not cover any official fees)

Visit our start-up IP insight collection, for more analysis of the IP issues relevant to start-up businesses.