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Exporting and Intellectual Property (Part 4)

April 10, 2014

This is the final article in a series of four discussing exporting and intellectual property in support of UK Trade & Investment's export week, running 7th - 11th April 2014.

There is currently a lot of talk in the UK about exports, particularly as a route to growth for our manufacturing base.

In Part 1, we discussed the new intellectual property (IP) environment you will encounter when entering a new market abroad, and in Part 2, we discussed “exporting” your UK IP. In Part 3, we discussed some of the good news. Finally, we explore the possibility that an export strategy might impact on your UK IP position. If you export to a country outside Europe where you have less protection, a lower reputation etc. you might not be able to command the same prices. Does that leave an opportunity for someone to buy your products cheaply abroad, bring them back to the UK and compete with your UK products? There is a particular risk if you export products with a lower specification, perhaps to meet lower prices expected in the foreign market. Any parallel import getting back to the UK would not only compete with you on price, but might also damage your reputation in view of the lower specification. You should be able to control these parallel imports if you have your IP position secure at home (either for the EU or for the UK only), and if you don’t create consent for products to be imported back to the UK, but clearly these are issues which need to be checked. Intellectual property exists to create value in your business, and this applies abroad as much as at home. Add it to the list of topics in your “export” file!

Swindell & Pearson Ltd has plenty of experience in helping clients to navigate these issues, so please get us involved in your export planning at an early stage. We can help you use the foreign intellectual property systems and we can help quantify any risks by looking for patents, trade marks or other rights which might be relevant to you in those other countries, and advising on the consequences. We maintain a network of associates around the world, so we can obtain detailed local advice if that is appropriate. We want intellectual property to work for you, not against you.

To discuss your export plans in more detail, please contact your normal Swindell & Pearson Ltd attorney or [email protected].