Intellectual Property Rights – Protecting your creativity and innovation.
What is intellectual property?
Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind. Having the right type of intellectual property protection can prevent others from stealing or copying your inventions and creations; such as the name, design or look of your products.
It is important for businesses to be aware of the different types of intellectual property rights to ensure the ultimate protection for their creations and to maximise their competitive position within the market.
Intellectual property rights are divided into two main categories (in the UK):
- Registered rights: Registered rights are granted on application to the UK Intellectual Property Office. With registered rights, owners can stop others from using their creations without permission. These include trademarks, patents and registered designs.
- Unregistered rights: Unregistered rights arise automatically and give protection on the creation of your work. These include confidential information, copyright, unregistered design rights and unregistered trademarks.
Different types of intellectual property protections include:
Copyright protects original works of authorship such as literary, artistic, musical and dramatic works. Copyright also protects computer software, sound recordings, broadcasts, films and architecture. Essentially, it protects the expression of an idea. It does not protect against independent development of the same idea(s).
Copyright arises automatically and lasts for 50 to 70 years depending on the creation of work.
Patents protect new inventions and innovative technical features of products and processes. An inventor is not entitled to a patent as an automatic right, as a grant of a patent is not automatic. It is necessary to file an application for a patent in order to have this protection. Patents can provide a high level of protection for businesses that are ready to commercialise a new product.
Trademarks protect symbols, words, phrases that distinguish products or services of one party from another. Registration of a trademark is not required however it does confer certain advantages.
It is possible to apply for a trademark in most jurisdictions. A UK registered trademark will only be enforceable in the UK, while an EU trademark will be enforceable throughout Europe.
Design rights protect the appearance of a product. This can be the appearance of the whole product or part of the product. A registered design right lasts a maximum of 25 years, which requires a registration renewal every 5 years. Unregistered design right, on the other hand, will give a right against copying and under the UK design right, this protection will last for ten years from its first marketing.
Confidential Information – Trade Secrets
It is also possible to protect information that is considered to be sensitive to your business, through confidential information rights. This will cover know-how and trade secrets. These are not strictly intellectual property rights however they will protect sensitive information, both commercial and technical and they do not need to be registered.
We can assist you with various aspects of intellectual property rights, from identifying these rights and guiding you through the registration process.