Protecting the marketing mix through intellectual property rights

by The Times 100 on Thursday 29th October, 2009

Firms take steps to protect their physical assets such as buildings, by locking them up or taking out insurance, but how can they protect their intellectual property? The Intellectual Property Office is the government body responsible for granting intellectual property rights in the UK. Intellectual property is the term used to describe property that originates in the mind. The business writer Charles Handy describes it as the 3Is – information, ideas and intelligence, and it can include inventions, designs, brand names and recorded material such as songs. By preventing other businesses from using their ideas and information, firms can maintain a competitive advantage. Patents, registered designs, trade marks and copyrights are all ways that the Intellectual Property Office can support businesses in protecting their intellectual property.

Patents are widely used in scientific research. Huge sums of money are invested by organisations in this field and so researchers will look for ways of protecting their findings. Last week the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded 70 initial research grants of $100,000 (£65,000) to young scientists who are looking at ways of fighting infectious diseases. One of the ideas is for a chewing gum that can detect malaria. Another scientist is researching into the use of an electronic nose which could detect tuberculosis in a patient's breath. Should any of these ideas prove successful in the future, it is possible that they will need protecting. (The Times Online 21st October 2009)

 With an estimated 75% of a firm's value is in its intellectual property, the work of The Intellectual Property Office is vital to ensure that businesses can exploit their own intellectual property, such as knowledge and brands, without risking their ideas being copied by others.

Questions

  1. List the four ways that the Intellectual Property Office can help a business protect its intellectual property
  2. What would be used to protect each of the following? a. The look of a mobile phone b. The lyrics of a song c. A brand name d. An invention
  3. For the marketing mix of a firm with which you are familiar, explain how intellectual property protection has contributed to success
  4. Analyse the benefits of protecting intellectual property

Answers to questions

  1. List the four ways that the Intellectual Property Office can help a business protect its intellectual property    Patents, Designs, Trade marks, Copyright 
  2. What would be used to protect each of the following? a. The look of a mobile phone – registered design b. The lyrics of a song - copyright c. A brand name - trade mark d. An invention –patent 
  3. For the marketing mix of a firm with which you are familiar, explain how intellectual property protection has contributed to success Any example could be used e.g. Forensic Pathways in the IPO case study or Dyson… Patent on the cyclone technology used in Dyson vacuum cleaners meant the product was different from any other on the market, The trade mark 'Dyson' insignia makes it easily recognisable and associated with this one organisation during promotion. The well known Dyson brand name has become synonymous with vacuum cleaners. Due to the unique nature and performance of the product when it was first introduced, prices could be set higher than its competitors 
  4. Analyse the benefits of protecting intellectual property – Prevents others from copying ideas, Provides competitive advantage, Incentive for firms and individuals to invest in and develop new ideas as they should be able to profit from them, Stimulates further innovation and competition, Intellectual property forms a major part of a firm's wealth

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