New to IP?
Why is intellectual property (IP) important?
Your business spends time and money producing new and creative ideas, brands, products and processes. Protecting these assets can increase the value of your company. You can sell your IP; you can license it for royalties; it makes your company more attractive to investors; and you can secure funding against it.
More businesses are discovering the value of IP protection. Here are some of the options available to you:
A patent is a contract with the Government, giving you the exclusive rights to your invention for up to 20 years. In order to secure a patent, your invention must be:
- new and inventive
- kept confidential until you have filed your application
Any patent application must drafted as thoroughly and skilfully as possible in order to maximise your chances of getting the strongest patent. You are strongly recommended to use a patent attorney who will understand your technology, as well as the many different rules and procedures involved.
If you want to protect your invention in other countries, you need to do so within 12 months. There are different options available to you, including filing individual applications in each country of interest and filing a single international (PCT) application which can offer protection in a multitude of countries.
A trade mark is an ‘identifier’ of your product or service. It can be a word or words, a logo, packaging, a colour, a slogan, numbers, or even a sound or smell.
A trade mark application can be filed in the UK, the EU and most countries around the world. A Registered Trade Mark ® is generally in force for 10 years before a renewal fee is needed.
Designs & Copyright
In law, a design refers to the external appearance – in 2-dimentions or 3-dimensions – of a product, eg. a perfume bottle shape, the shape of a mobile telephone, or the shape of a chocolate bar.
A Registered Design is generally in force for a maximum period of 25 years, and must be renewed periodically.
Copyright protection is dominant in fields such as publishing, films, computer games and web design. Copyright gives automatic protection for many things people do every day e.g.. Writing research and development reports, designing web pages, taking photographs, or writing computer code.
You should mark your copyright materials with the copyright notice, owner and date e.g. © Fred Smith Limited 2013.
Confidential information/trade secrets
Confidential information is key information about your business which you have decided to keep secret. The information you hold within your business – technical know-how, financial and IT information, project plans and new developments – may be extremely valuable.
To protect any confidential information you divulge, it is recommended to use a Confidentiality or Non- Disclosure Agreement (NDA).