For individuals and small businesses, the cost of obtaining patent protection is often perceived as being prohibitively high and the process impractically long. Without the resources for proper legal advice, many prospective first time applicants are put off from filing patent applications to protect their inventions.
However, patents can be very valuable business assets. They can also be useful tools for securing market share and for attracting investors, and if the appropriate protection has not been applied for then this could put a business in an unfavourable position by closing off routes to potential investment and by allowing competitors entry into its market.
In reaction to this problem, the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) recently launched its “Inventor Assistance Program” (http://www.wipo.int/iap/en/).
The WIPO program brings volunteer patent attorneys in contact with qualifying inventors to provide pro bono (i.e. free of charge) advice and assistance to help the inventors navigate the patent system. The program was successfully piloted in Colombia, Morocco, and the Philippines, and the launch aims to expand it to other countries across the globe.
Here at Beck Greener, we operate a “bureau” service, offering free information and advice to potential applicants, or applicants without legal representation, who are seeking help with intellectual property matters – patents, trade marks and design rights.
For general queries, we provide free information leaflets that explain the different types of intellectual property rights (patents, designs, trade marks, and copyright etc.) and the different routes available for obtaining registered rights.
For more complex issues, our professional practitioners are available for a 30 minute consultation, free of charge. We aim to help potential applicants to identify potentially registerable rights, such an invention for a patent, a word/logo for a trade mark, or a design for a registered design, and to advise on the best route for obtaining those registered rights. We also aim to advise rights holders or applicants on what actions may be required to maintain or enforce their rights, or how best to manage and advance their applications.
The initial consultation is free of charge and can be conducted over the phone or at our offices. If further legal assistance is required after the initial consultation, then we are happy to provide our services on a more formal basis.