What exactly is Intellectual Property and what does it mean for you? Here is a handy quick read from Lucy Gray, Partner in our Dispute Resolution and Intellectual Property Team, taking you through the different types of IP you might have and what we can do to help you protect it.
What is Intellectual Property?
Most companies and businesses these days have some sort of Intellectual Property. There are several different kinds and Intellectual Property (or ‘IP’) is more of an umbrella team that is used to cover lots of different rights that are ‘intangible’ (as opposed to tangible rights, in real property for instance).
Most things you create, such as software, literature, photographs, sound recordings and drawings, may be original and capable of protection by copyright. That is an automatic right that doesn’t need to be registered anywhere. It is quite likely that you probably already some materials that are protected by copyright, meaning that any reproduction without your consent is usually an infringement.
This is the type of IP that most people have heard of as high-profile trade mark claims and disputes make the news. Trade marks can take the form of names, slogans and logos and can be registered at the UK Trade Mark Registry. It’s usually a lot easier to enforce your rights if they are registered but if you have been using your name or a certain logo for a long time that probably already has attracted some protection because of goodwill.
Design rights can be unregistered or registered and protect the overall appearance of something including decoration, graphic symbols and the shape of a 3D product.
Patents are one of the more complex forms of Intellectual Property. They protect inventions and technical processes. Getting a patent registered can be a complicated process but, once you have one, it is usually a very useful right that can have a value allocated to it.
Quite often, a business’s most valuable asset is its confidential information and the know how held within the business to do what you do or to make what you make. Whilst confidential information, know-how and trade secrets are not technically IP rights, they are still intangible rights that need to be protected in dealings with third parties.
Do you have any IP and is it protected?
Our IP Audit can identify any IP you have or may be in the process of creating. We will come in and talk to you about what you do and how you do it. We will look at your contracts and documents to see what is and isn’t already protected. We will then advise on how you can further protect your rights across your business with clear, commercial and practical legal solutions to protect your assets and to save you time and money.