Protection Is Part Of DNA
04 March 2015
A couple of decades ago, ‘intellectual property rights’ (IPR) was not a phrase readily associated with the construction/engineering industry.
Today, however, Costain’s evolution into an engineering solutions provider means that IPR is very much part of the Group’s DNA. It’s valuable and has to be protected.
Which is just one of the duties of Maidenhead-based Shima Rad, who qualified as a Solicitor with the Company last November.
She is also the Group’s Data Protection Officer and specialises in legal aspects of technology and software contracts.
“The intention was to qualify into those niche areas in which the business needs specialist advice and in which I’m interested,” said Shima, who joined from university in 2008 and tackled her legal practice course while working for the Group.
The Group’s IPR comes in the form of certain patents – mainly held by the process engineering side of the business in Manchester – and issues relating to the Group’s brand, which is a valuable asset.
IPR also applies to products being developed in-house, such as the WeCare tracking software, which allows staff movements to be logged and informs managers when tasks have been completed.
"Say we enhance our service to our customers through our WeCare software, we need to have early discussions relating to the intellectual property that we bring. This technology spans across our business, so it's not possible to link the IPR to a particular customer on a bespoke contract.
My role is to strike the right balance to ensure that our customers and the business are happy that the value each party brings is adequately represented."
There is also a potential problem if software developed by Costain and that of another company interacts: “Arguments can arise, so you have to try to pre-empt that,” said Shima.
Software such as WeCare also impinges on areas such as data protection issues; if a person’s location is effectively being tracked through their tablet device, they have to be informed of this to ensure their assent is given.
Shima has also been involved in rolling out e-training in fields such as competition law and anti-bribery legislation, as well as more traditional areas such as commercial litigation on contracts.
The range of work she tackles is considerably wider than would have been the case in past generations: “It’s all been quite diverse,” she says. And rapid developments in fields such as data protection mean that the tempo of change is considerably faster now than when she joined just a few years ago.
Costain Communications Department