Intellectual Property – protecting your rights

In today’s information-based economy your organisation’s intellectual property may be your most prized asset. Consideration of the protection, control and exploitation of ideas, innovation, technology, know-how and brands is of critical importance.

What is Intellectual Property?

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) state that Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs and symbols, and names used in industry and commerce. If you are self-employed, you usually own the intellectual property even if your work was commissioned by someone else, unless your contract with them says otherwise.

Ways to protect your IP

IP can be protected in law by patents, copyrights, and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. Protecting your intellectual property makes it easier to take legal action against anyone who steals or copies it.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is the official government body responsible for IP rights. Some types of protection are granted automatically via the IPO, and others you must apply for.

Automatic Protection

  • Copyright – writing and literary works, art, photography, films, TV, music, web content, sound recordings
  • Design right – the shape and configuration of objects i.e., how different parts of your design(s) are combined together

Protections which must be applied for

  • Trademarks – Product names, logos, jingles (time to allow for application is four months). When you register a trademark, you will be able to take legal action against anyone who uses your brand without your permission. You will be able to sell and license your brand and put the ® symbol next to your brand to show that it is yours.
  • Registered designs – The appearance of a product, including shape, packaging, patterns, colour, decoration (time to allow for application is one month). Any aspect of your design will be protected, and you will be able to prevent anyone from using it for up to 25 years (although you will have to renew your registered design every five years). Registering your design will make taking legal action against infringement and copying more straightforward.
  • Patents – Inventions and products, for example machines and machine parts, tools, and medicines (time allowed for application is approximately five years). A patent gives you the right to take legal action against anyone who makes, uses, sells, or imports your product or invention without your permission.

Carefully consider the type of protection you may need and whether you may require more than one type of protection linked to a single product. In addition to the rights highlighted here, there are several other ways to protect your original ideas, for example using confidentiality agreements, copy protection devices, publication rights and trade secrets.

To determine the correct level of protection, seek professional legal advice from an IP specialist who will offer the correct guidance on next steps.

Bowcock and Pursaill advise businesses from start-ups and SMEs to large-scale organisations, on the development, protection, and enforcement of their IP rights. Our specialists can help in all areas relating to intellectual property including trademarks, copyright, designs, patents and passing off and will provide a cost-effective solution to meet your needs.

To find out how we can assist you call our expert team on 01782 200007 or email Tim Wolley at tw@bowcockpursaill.co.uk.

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