What exactly is Intellectual property?

In Intellectual Property

Ever had an idea for a great new product? One that could make a real difference to the lives of others, to the world or even just yourself? If the answer is yes, now is the time to start taking precautions to ensure that nobody will try and take the idea from you.

Copyrights, trademarks and patents are all types of intellectual property protection, and they work to ensure that you get the recognition that you deserve for your creations. Whether it is an invention, artistic work (such as music or literature), or perhaps an element of design and branding, it could be vital to your business’s future success that nobody can replicate what you have painstakingly created.

Owning the intellectual property rights to a product or work will grant you the monetary rewards that come with being able to sell or distribute it, safe in the knowledge that nobody can copy it.

What types of IP rights are there?
Intellectual property law is a complicated beast, primarily because it can cover such a broad range of creations and is more open to interpretation than any other form of theft. There are a number of different forms of IP rights relating to original products of the mind, and a solicitor is often best placed to advise on which IP right you should apply for.

Here are a few of the most common forms:

  • Patent – the right given to an inventor in order to prohibit the copying, making or selling of a product by another party
  • Copyright – an exclusive right to the presentation of an idea or original work, which usually only lasts for a limited period
  • Trademark – a sign, logo or phrase that makes a product or service provider stand out from competitors
  • Design right – Registered and unregistered design rights protect three-dimensional designs and new versions created. A recent addition to UK law, unregistered design rights expire in 15 years

How do I know that I have the rights to IP?
You own the intellectual property on an idea or a piece of work if you created it and it meets the requirements for a copyright or trademark. Alternatively, you can own the IP to an idea that isn\'t your own if you bought the IP from the original owner. A specialist solicitor will be able to advise if you are unsure whether or not you can submit for the rights to IP.

What if I created something when working for a company?
If you generated an idea whilst in employment then it is the employer, the ones who paid you for that service and would be using the idea or product, who would own the IP. If you are unsure whether this applies to you and your ‘original’ idea, it is always best to consult a legal professional before progressing an idea or product.

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