Business leaders should take action to protect and manage their Intellectual Property
26th March 2019
Bill Goodwin, a Commercial Partner at Ward Hadaway and Howard Grindrod, Director at TV and consumer electronics company, Hisense UK, discuss the importance of intellectual property to a business.
There are countless considerations associated with running a business and one which can be overlooked is the competitive advantage that robust intellectual property protection and careful management of this asset can offer.
Established companies like former Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 winner Hisense UK take it very seriously, and as a result, IP has played a crucial role in the growth of the company in the UK over recent years.
Commercial Partner, Bill Goodwin explained: “Intellectual Property or “IP” can refer to anything that is the result of innovation, such as an invention or design. However, it can also refer to anything that helps to differentiate a company’s products from those of its competitors and which a company has invested in advertising and promoting, notably trademarks and brands.”
“It goes without saying that a high-profile consumer electronics company like Hisense will own and exploit intellectual property rights. But, in my experience identifying, protecting and carefully managing intellectual property is of increasing importance for all businesses.”
“For instance, all businesses in the Fastest 50 will trade under a name and will therefore have a brand that they should think about registering as a trade mark. Other companies will need to consider intellectual property rights which are of particular importance for their sector, such as patents in electronics and pharmaceuticals and copyright in publishing or software development.”
Howard agreed that IP had been vital for Hisense UK’s success in bringing the Hisense brand and products to the UK market and growing its market share in the UK under those brands rapidly.
He said: “We are very lucky at Hisense UK in that the products we sell incorporate cutting-edge technologies developed in China. Our Smart TVs make use of innovative processor chips which can set them apart from other similar products and which are protected by patents.
“Within Hisense UK we have worked hard to grow to the brand to be a major presence in the UK consumer electronics market. The Hisense brand is, of course, protected in the UK and globally as a registered trade mark.”
The Yorkshire-based company won the award for Fastest Growing Large Business and Overall Fastest Growing Business at the 2017 Fastest 50 event, which recognises and celebrates the fastest growing privately-owned companies across Yorkshire.
Hisense UK which was established in Leeds in 2012 is the British arm of Chinese multinational Hisense Company Ltd, one of the world’s largest electronics and consumer goods manufacturers. Its products include televisions, refrigerators, freezers, laundry units, tablet computers and mobile phones.
Hisense has been a well-known brand in other parts of the world for years. For instance, it has held the pole position as the number one brand for Smart TVs in countries such as Australia, China and South Africa. Hisense’s rate of growth in the UK has outstripped most competitors by some margin and defied trends in the sector generally.
High-profile sponsorship deals (for instance the FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euros) have certainly helped build brand recognition in the UK, but there is more to Hisense UK’s success and astonishing growth than that.
Howard said: “Profile built through sponsorship has been a factor. But building real and lasting value in a brand is about much more than advertising and marketing alone. It’s about trust.”
He explained: “Fundamentally, brands such as Hisense are built on quality products. All our products are underpinned by rigorous product development and quality control. At Hisense UK we have worked tirelessly to ensure the UK consumers purchasing our products are not disappointed.
“For instance, we work closely with the product development teams in China and Europe to ensure our products are adapted, as necessary, to meet any specific requirements of the UK market and the demands and expectations of UK consumers. This can include details such as ensuring that there is seamless integration with widely used services in the UK such as the BBC iPlayer.
“It is this care and attention which keeps customers coming back knowing that they can rely on the Hisense brand as a mark of quality and value. It is intellectual property in the form of registered trademarks which “locks in” that value and enables us to control and manage how the brand is used and protect it from misuse”.
Bill agrees, emphasising that this was the case for all businesses, both large and small, stating: “There is rarely a short cut to success in business and fast growth. It is almost always built on hard work, investment in innovation and marketing as well as concern for customers.
“The asset which that hard work, investment and concern creates if very often an intangible one, but it is a vital asset nevertheless, which can often be protected through intellectual property rights such as patents, trademarks, designs and copyright. In turn those rights, if protected and carefully managed, can ensure that the success and fast growth is sustained. It’s a virtuous circle.”
In his experience, Bill said most entrepreneurs of fast-growing businesses like those in our Ward Hadaway Yorkshire Fastest 50 list are aware of what is valuable to their business and generally take steps to safeguard valuable assets.
Bill Goodwin is a Commercial Partner at Ward Hadaway’s Leeds office. He can be contacted on 0113 205 6643 and firstname.lastname@example.org