Once someone has created design or brand, or invented new technology, one of the most important things that he has to do with it is stop other people using it without permission. Intellectual property law and regulations have been design to protect people’s creative work and inventions. The things could go wrong with the well- established trademarks of the companies, patent and copyrights of the products/ brand or the design rights.
From a legal perspective there is often some overlap. For example, someone could who copied your technology has copied both, your patent and your design right. In copying your brand another company may have used both your trade mark and passed themselves off as you. It is difficult for the man in the street to understand the differences between each act. The dispute could arise because of issues such as who owns the brand or technology in the first place. It isn’t always clear and it is a BIG mistake to go around simply accusing people of taking your brand or copying your design or patent without getting your facts straight. The reason for this is that the legislation contains provisions called “threats” provisions that mean that you can face Court action for wrongly accusing another party or their client of infringing your intellectual property.
What intellectual property is
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 trademarks are all types of intellectual property protection. You get some types of protection automatically, others you have to apply for.
What counts as intellectual property
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.
Owning intellectual property
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, eg a well-known product name
Protect your intellectual property
Protecting your intellectual property makes it easier to take legal action against anyone who steals or copies it.
Types of protection
The type of protection you can get depends on what you’ve created. You get some types of protection automatically, others you have to apply for.
|Type of protection||Examples of intellectual property|
|Copyright||Writing and literary works, art, photography, films, TV, music, web content, sound recordings|
|Design right||Shapes of objects|
Protection you have to apply for
|Type of protection||Examples of intellectual property||Time to allow for application|
|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, eg machines and machine parts, tools, medicines||Around 5 years|
Intellectual property can:
- have more than one owner
- belong to people or businesses
- be sold or transferred
Intellectual property if you’re self-employed
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.
You usually won’t own the intellectual property for something you created as part of your work while you were employed by someone else.
Branding – the act of giving a company a particular design or symbol in order to advertise its products and services.
Words, logos, sounds, colours and smells even could be registered as a trademark and allows the companies to protect their brands and identity on the highly competitive market. Public usually recognize the product and the services due to the trade marks. It helps to build loyalty amongst customers.
The most common trade marks are words or logos, black and white or in colours.
Famous trade marks such as those owned by Apple, Google and Coca-Cola are instantly recognizable worldwide. In the UK, trade marks are registered on a first to file basis. It would be good to register the trademarks before launching the product or services so it would become a great intellectual property asset.