New business ideas, technology, products or services, and branding or logos are all forms of Intellectual Property (IP), which can be one of your most valuable business assets. Securing and protecting your IP can increase your competitiveness and contribute to your businesses success.
If you fail to protect your IP, it may put your business and risk and allow others to take advantage of your competitive edge.
The main options for protecting your IP are:
If you develop a process or a product that is new or inventive and could be used in industry, in other words, it can be made, then you can apply for a patent.
A patent can protect your invention by making it unlawful for anyone, apart from you or someone with your permission, to produce, use, import or sell it.
A trade mark is a sign which can distinguish your goods and services from those of other traders. A sign includes, for example, words, logos, pictures or a combination of these. You can use your trade mark as a marketing tool so that customers can recognise your products or services. As such, it can be a very valuable asset for your business.
If you have a registered mark, you have the right to use your mark on the goods and services in the classes for which it is registered. You also have the legal right to take action against anyone who uses your mark or a similar mark on the same, or similar goods and services to those that are set out in the registration.
Like other IP rights, a trade mark can make you money if you sell, lease, or license it for use by another trader. It can be a valuable asset and it is important to make it work for you.
Registering a company name or domain name
Please remember that registering a company name at Companies House or an internet domain name does not mean that name will automatically be accepted as a trade mark. These registrations do not give you exclusive right to use that name. Also, a domain or company name registration may infringe someone else’s trade mark.
If you want to find out more about registering your business as a limited company, please contact Companies House
Copyright protects sound recordings, films, broadcasts and original artistic, musical, dramatic and literary works. This includes, for example, photographs, sculptures, websites, computer programs, plays, books, videos, databases, maps and logos. But it does not protect the names, designs or functions of the items themselves.
Copyright is an automatic right which you do not need to formally apply or pay for. It arises as soon as the work is “fixed” eg written down, recorded or stored in a computer memory.
A design protects the visual appearance of a product, part of a product, or its ornamentation. This can also apply to an industrial or handicraft item. This IP right gives no protection for how a product works but merely for its appearance. That appearance can be affected by a number of contributory features including:
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is an executive agency of BIS and is the official government body responsible for granting IP rights in the United Kingdom.
For any questions you have regarding Intellectual Property or protecting your business ideas, the IPO can be contacted directly at:
Tel: 0300 300 2000
The Business Growth Hub can provide a host of support to take you from an initial concept/idea to a successful business. Advice is on hand from industry experts and experienced business leaders who can work with you to solve problems in your business and drive future success.