Protecting your Intellectual Property

With the UK being part of truly global economy, it is vital for businesses to consider their branding and product design, but they should also consider protecting these key assets by some form of intellectual property (“IP”) protection.

IP is something created by a business and can include:

  • Product names and brands
  • Inventions
  • Design and look of products
  • Items written, made or produced

Under UK law certain types of IP receive automatic protection, whilst others need to be applied for. There are 5 basic forms of protection available to a business, being:

Type of protection Examples of IP Time for application
Copyright Writing and literary works, art, photography, films, TV, music, web content, sound recordings Automatic
Design right  Shapes of objects Automatic
Trade marks Product names, logos, jingles 4 months
Registered designs Appearance of a product including, shape, packaging, patterns, colours, decoration 1 month
Patents Inventions and products Around 5 years

Once your business’ IP has been identified, you will need to obtain assistance from a professional, such as a patent or trademark lawyer to register any relevant protection.

One area which can overlooked is the location of such protection. It is important to consider registered holder of IP protection, especially where multiple entities are involved. It is relatively easy to register protection in the wrong company’s name, and can be time-consuming and costly to rectify this at a later date.

Consideration should also be given to the possible “ring-fencing” of any IP held, as protection against the failure of a part of a business, as well as providing a secure basis for any future disposal of that IP.

As with many aspects of running a business, when it comes to IP “it’s better to be safe than sorry”.

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