Intellectual Property

Having the right type of intellectual property protection helps you to stop people stealing or copying:

  • the names of your products or brands
  • your inventions
  • the design or look of your products
  • things you write, make or produce

Copyright, patents, designs and trade marks are all types of intellectual property protection.

Intellectual property is something unique that you physically create. An idea alone is not intellectual property. For example, an idea for a book doesn’t count, but the words you’ve written do.

You own intellectual property if you:

  • created it (and it meets the requirements for copyright, a patent or a design)
  • bought intellectual property rights from the creator or a previous owner
  • have a brand that could be a trade mark trade mark

Intellectual property can:

  • have more than one owner
  • belong to people or businesses
  • be sold or transferred

If you’re self-employed, you usually own the intellectual property even if your work was commissioned by someone else – unless your contract with them gives them the rights.

Protecting your intellectual property makes it easier to take legal action against anyone who steals or copies it.

You get some types of protection automatically, others you have to apply for.

Automatic protection

  • Copyright e.g. Writing and literary works, art, photography, films, TV, music, web content, sound recordings
  • Design right e.g. Shapes of objects

Protection you have to apply for

  • Trade Marks e.g. Product names, logos, jingles
  • Registered designs e.g. Appearance of a product including, shape, packaging, patterns, colours, decoration
  • Patents e.g. Inventions and products, eg machines and machine parts, tools, medicines

It is very important that these types of intellectual property are kept secret until they’re registered. If you need to discuss your idea with someone, use a non-disclosure agreement.

The information is taken from the website under the Open Government Licence v3.0