1. Overview

Intellectual property is something you create that’s unique.

It includes copyright, patents, designs and trade marks, and can be:

  • something you invent, like a new product
  • a product’s design or appearance
  • a brand or logo
  • written work, like content on a website or in a brochure
  • artistic work, like photography or illustrations
  • film recordings or musical compositions
  • computer software

You can’t protect an idea but you can often protect what you do with it, eg you can’t protect an idea for a book but you can protect the words you’ve written.

Who owns intellectual property

You or your business usually own the intellectual property if you create something.

Contracts with employees and subcontractor should say who owns the intellectual property of anything they create for you.

Protecting your intellectual property allows you to:

  • stop others using what you’ve created without your permission
  • charge others for the right to use what you’ve created

Types of protection

The type of protection you need depends on what you’ve created, eg inventions are protected by patents and artistic work by copyright.

You can use more than one type of protection for the same product, eg you can patent your product and register its name as a trade mark.

Find out about the different types of intellectual property protection and which would be best for you.

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