Thursfields Solicitors offer insight into using the law to de-risk your product development
Stuart Price, Director, Commercial & Technology, Media and Telecoms at Thursfields Solicitors based in Birmingham, gives an insight into how lawyers can add value to any such project, in areas that you might not expect.
Launching any new Product is always going to be a risk, and lack of sales isn’t the only one. What if the Product doesn’t work as planned? The company will be exposed to not only reputational damage, but Product liability claims. In order to mitigate risk, think about whether the Product should be launched through a new division or by forming a subsidiary company.
Intellectual Property Rights
The way a Product looks, the way it operates, and what it is called can often be protected by intellectual property laws, but in order to maximise protection, many forms of intellectual property have to be registered.
You should also carry out searches to ensure that the Product is not infringing the intellectual property rights of others.
Collaboration with third parties
Many companies will want to collaborate with others. This is not without risk. Trade secrets or confidential information may need to be exchanged or ideas shared and developed independently. Without having safeguards in place, this information may fall into the wrong hands. Non-Disclosure Agreements should be used to impose contractual restrictions on collaborating parties.
Ownership of intellectual property is also a concern here. Whilst intellectual property rights created by employees of the company will generally vest in their employer automatically, this most certainly is not the case where self-employed contractors are engaged unless all parties have agreed who should own the rights.
Bringing any new Product to market will involve having to have contractual relationships with third parties: manufacturers, logistics, sales agents and distributors, retailers etc. Each of these relationships will have contractual implications and either you will be doing business with them on their standard contractual terms, or fresh terms will need to be negotiated.
How are you going to get the Product to market? Online sales only, or will you be engaging distributors or sales agents in each territory to market and promote sales too. If you are employing agents or distributors, what terms of engagement do you have with them? Is that relationship exclusive or non-exclusive, will they commit to minimum sales obligations, are they going to be handling shipping costs, what about returns etc.
If you end up selling the new Product direct to customers, particularly over the internet, it is highly likely that you will collect personal data. The UK GDPR tightly regulates how personal data should be collected and how it should be used by organisations. Organisations collecting personal data should provide their customers with a privacy statement which should be made available before the customer is asked to impart their personal information.
Engaging a lawyer as part of your product development team should help the company avoid some of the many pitfalls along the way.
For advice contact Stuart Price via 0345 20 73 72 8 or email [email protected]
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