Protecting the marketing mix through intellectual property rights
An Intellectual Property Office case study

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Page 2: The marketing mix

Marketing is about projecting the right product at the right price in the right way to the right customers. This is how value is added.

Bringing a product to a market involves balancing several key ingredients. This is called the marketing mix: the 4Ps of product, price, promotion and place. Every offering will need a slightly different mix of these factors, depending on the product itself, the target audience and the market.

The logical starting point is always the customer. A product must deliver value to customers in the target market by meeting customer requirements. Forensic Pathways had carried out detailed market research and understood the needs of its target market: the police and security agencies that have the legal right to access mobile phone data. This research enabled Forensic Pathways to identify what features the product would have to meet these customers' needs.

However, before investing in development, Forensic Pathways needed to check whether such a product already existed. By searching the patent database on the Intellectual Property Office's website, a business can verify that its idea is entirely new. A patent gives protection from copying or imitation by competitors.

Price needs to be competitive and offer customers value for money. Forensic Pathways needs to make positive return on its investment and recoup its development costs. The ability to protect intellectual property is crucial here. If a competitor could simply 'take' Forensic Pathways' technology and software to develop a similar product, it could price this product much lower because it would not need to recover research costs. In effect, taking out a patent gives a company time to exploit its research in the marketplace.

Forensic Pathways uses its specialist knowledge of the market and personal links with key customers to promote its product. By registering the company name and the product name, the Forensic Phone Analyser, as trade marks, it prevented other companies using these names. This provides clarity for customers. Rival businesses cannot offer similar and perhaps inferior products with identical names. Companies use trade names to build and identify their brands.

The final P in the marketing mix is place - the channels to market. This is the process that enables customers to buy and receive the product. This can include the use of wholesalers and retailers, the work of the sales force and direct marketing techniques. This activity can be compromised if the product is confused with similarly named rival products. This legal protection for product and brand identity is also important when it comes to the sales process itself.

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Intellectual Property Office | Protecting the marketing mix through intellectual property rights