To a greater or lesser extent all businesses will own or rely on intellectual property rights.
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 and the things you write, make or produce.
If you need advice on which rights may be most relevant to your business, how you can best protect or benefit from those rights or if you are concerned about infringement of yours or another’s intellectual property rights, please contact us.
Talk to us about:
- Trade marks
- Licencing IP rights to others
Trade marks, including brand names and logos, are used to identify a business or its products and much of the goodwill and value of the business may come to depend on its trade marks.
A business with an established reputation might be protected against use of its unregistered trade marks under the law of passing off, but generally the value in a trade mark is far better protected by registration of the mark in the relevant territories and for the relevant uses.
When considering the use of any new trade mark or brand name, it is essential, before making any significant investment or using the mark, to arrange proper searches to ensure that the use will not infringe the rights of others already using or owning the same or similar marks. We recommend that any business contemplating registering a new trade mark should take advice from a trade mark attorney.
Copyright typically exists in connection with a business’s written materials, its website design and content (including any photographs or artwork used on the site) and in the computer software it uses.
Copyright arises automatically on creation of the work and so does not require registration. It only protects however against copying of the work and so offers only limited protection.
Copyright is easily and frequently infringed by unauthorised reproduction of another’s work. The issue which most commonly affects business relates to the ownership of the copyright materials used by the businesses.
It is important to understand that generally, other than in the case of work produced in the normal course of employment, the creator of a work owns the work and so unless otherwise specifically agreed in the contract, any commissioned work, for example, for the design for a website, will be owned by the creator of the work and not the business commissioning the work.
Patents protect against copying of new inventions. To be patentable an invention must be new, inventive, capable of industrial application and must not fall within an excluded category. Business methods and most computer software fall within excluded categories.
If a business has an invention requiring protection it should take advice from a patent attorney and be aware that it is essential, in order that the right to file the patent is not lost, that the invention must be kept confidential until the patent application is filed.
Designs may be registered or unregistered in each case at UK or EU Community level and with the features and requirements for each type of right being different.
Registered designs protect the appearance, shape or ornamentation of new two or three dimensional designs of ‘individual character’. The new design must be applied for within 12 months of the design being disclosed.
The design must be original and either recorded in a design document or the subject of an article made to the design. The shape must not be dictated by the purpose of enabling the product or part to fit with another article or dependant on the shape of another article it is intended to fit.