1. What intellectual property is

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
  • things you write, make or produce

Copyright, patents, designs and trade marks are all types of intellectual property protection. You get some types of protection automatically, others you have to apply for.

What counts as intellectual property

Intellectual property is something unique that you physically create. An idea alone is not intellectual property. For example, an idea for a book doesn’t count, but the words you’ve written do.

Owning intellectual property

You own intellectual property if you:

  • created it (and it meets the requirements for copyright, a patent or a design)
  • bought intellectual property rights from the creator or a previous owner
  • have a brand that could be a trade mark, eg a well-known product name

You usually won’t own the intellectual property for something you created as part of your work while you were employed by someone else.

Intellectual property can:

  • have more than one owner
  • belong to people or businesses
  • be sold or transferred