Innovation Pathway

Intellectual Property

Understanding intellectual property (IP) is an important part of protecting new ideas on the journey to the healthcare marketplace. DigitalHealth.London can provide information, contacts and resources that will help you during this process.

In the first instance, innovators from universities and NHS organisations should contact their local technology transfer team or commercial department.

Innovators may need assistance with:

  • Searching of existing products and patent applications in the public domain, to assess the scope for protecting the idea
  • Assistance with the preparation and filing of patent applications
  • Copyright, design rights and trademark assistance
  • Management of existing intellectual property portfolios

This will have the following benefits for the innovators:

  • Improvement of the chances of securing investment when it is required, as well as facilitating the successful commercialisation of ideas
  • Provision of a strong competitive advantage leading to increased commercial returns, as well as contributing to regional economic growth
  • Porfolio of commercialisation opportunities for exploitation by industry, lead into the development of new and improved products and services for improving patient care, as well as contributing to economic growth

The Intellectual Property Office offer a valuable learning resource. There are also a number of large and small consultancies that work in this area. DigitalHealth.London can help sign-post to specialists.


IP advice from Julian Hitchcock, Intellectual Property and Regulatory Lawyer at Denoon Legal

Defining aspects of IP landscape for health tech:

  1. Absence of patent protection for software in the EU including UK (unless some form of technical effect, but this is not straightforward).
  2. Software is deemed to be a literary work therefore can be protected by copyright. However there is a problem in that a literary loophole exists whereby you can change the code slightly, even if the function is the same.
  3. There is a rich licensing environment around databases. Be sure you are using databases lawfully.

Common pitfalls:

  1. Hubris. Energy is a good thing, but be realistic.
  2. Open source software. Using open source software may restrict your ability to commercialise. Check the Ts & Cs.
  3. Ownership of copyright in code. The author of the code is the owner of the copyright. Be sure to get an assignment from the software developers, this can be a simple agreement in writing.

Top tips:

  1. Confidentiality is key. Have non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in place.
  2. Do an FTO A thorough FTO (freedom to operate) is of huge value to investors.
  3. Know the regulatory route to market. Be compliant with regulations from the start.


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