Wed 19th Jul 2023
Virginia Driver shares IP insights with Fund Her North audience
Virginia joined a distinguished panel for a 'Fireside chat on Leveraging the Investment Ecosystem', an Accelerating Funding for Women in Business event run by Fund Her North, an organisation which supports funding for female founded companies and in conjunction with the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator.
Fund Her North is a Northern-based, volunteer collective of over 40 women (in VC’s, funding organisations and angel groups), with a combined investment power of over £1.2 billion. Each of the members of the Fund Her North collective has already made a lasting effect on female business leaders in the North, with a combined investment track record of over £200 million invested in female-led, start-up businesses.
Heather Waters introduced the panel as providing support and knowledge to female entrepreneurs to help build their networks and access the necessary knowledge and support for their businesses to thrive.
Virginia was joined by Amy Pierechod of Gordons LLP, a commercial law firm providing advice and support to founders. Amy spoke eloquently about many of the challenges faced by founders at the early stages of a company and made the cogent point that spending a small amount on advice of the early stage can save significant sums of money in rectifying difficulties down the line.
Diane Davies (Department for Business and Trade (DBT)) emphasised the importance of considering scaling up and using international opportunities as a mechanism for growth. She pointed out the many opportunities provided by the DBT to support international scaling.
Virginia spoke about the importance of recognising that intellectual property rights did not automatically protect a company’s innovation. It is necessary to determine which rights subsist, and where there may be action required to obtain rights (for example to register patents, trade marks or designs). An IP strategy is an extremely useful roadmap to construct and follow . She also pointed out that in the early stages of a company, it is not always possible to see a scaled-up end point.
About 20 years ago Virginia advised Skype, then one of the early operators of voice over IP telephony, to build up their patent portfolio. About a decade later, Skype was sold to Microsoft for $8.5 billion, with the patent portfolio valued at £343 million. At no stage in the early work with the engineers to put those patents together did anyone contemplate that they might one day be worth that kind of money.
Virginia also addressed some common founders’ misconceptions:
“Patents are expensive” – cost will depend on the type of patent, the territories covered and is relative to the other costs of establishing a new business.
“My technology is not patentable” – whether or not this is the case you need to talk to an expert as soon as possible to understand your options.
“My intellectual property is any way protected” – unless the correct rights are identified and if necessary registered, there is no automatic protection for the innovation underlying a new business.
The panel was very well received, prompting one audience member to say:
“One of the highlights was hearing from Virginia Driver, a brilliant expert on intellectual property (IP). Her insights were mind-blowing! If you're looking to create a solid IP strategy, I highly recommend reaching out to Virginia. She knows all the secrets to protect your innovative ideas and navigate the IP landscape.”
Felix Robinson, co-founder of Responsible Breeding and Pet Trust UK
For further information on commercialising and protecting your ideas and innovations, please contact Virginia Driver.