A COMPANY that protects business products and innovations has been set up in Bolton.

Patent and trademark lawyer Helen Brooke-Jones has spent the last 10 years working in private practice firms based in the North West before she began her own company, Brooke-Jones Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys.

Ms Brooke Jones said: “I moved to Bolton because the town was a power-house of innovation during the Industrial Revolution — especially in the textile industry.

“It was home to a number of inventors, some of whom obtained patents to protect their work.

“Unfortunately, some like Samuel Crompton — who invented the Spinning Mule which others soon manufactured — didn’t.”

Fast-forwarding to the 21st century, problems facing modern companies are varied.

She advises that an idea or concept must be confidential at the time that a patent application is filed if people want to ensure the best chance of obtaining any “truly useful and robust protection”.

She added: “As a general rule, it’s best not to tell anyone who is not bound by confidentiality, for example outside your organisation, until you have taken advice and know your options.

“If this is impractical, then a written confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement may help.”

She also points out the dangers of relying on an unregistered trademark.

“The UK law on registered trademarks specifies that the first person to file an application for the trademark is the owner of that registered right,” she explained.

“This allows the registered owner to prevent anyone else from using that trademark or a similar one for the same thing, unless there has been some earlier use of it by another organisation.

“However, problems can arise for you as owner of an unregistered trademark who has only been using this for a short period or in a small geographical area.

“If someone else manages to obtain a trademark registration after your own use began, the registered owner of the trademark is likely to be able to prevent you from expanding your use of it geographically, which is limiting your business.

“In the worst case, the registered owner could prevent you from using your trademark entirely.

“Getting out of such a position can be difficult and costly, not only from the point of view of legal advice and fees but also in the possible re-branding that might need to occur, having a massive impact on your reputation.”

For more information go to brooke-jones.co.uk