2. Protect your intellectual property

Protecting your intellectual property makes it easier to take legal action against anyone who steals or copies it.

Types of protection

The type of protection you can get depends on what you’ve created. You get some types of protection automatically, others you have to apply for.

Automatic protection

Type of protection Examples of intellectual property
Copyright Writing and literary works, art, photography, films, TV, music, web content, sound recordings
Design right Shapes of objects

Protection you have to apply for

Type of protection Examples of intellectual property Time to allow for application
Trade marks Product names, logos, jingles 4 months
Registered designs Appearance of a product including, shape, packaging, patterns, colours, decoration 1 month
Patents Inventions and products, eg machines and machine parts, tools, medicines Around 5 years

Keep these types of intellectual property secret until they’re registered. If you need to discuss your idea with someone, use a non-disclosure agreement.

Using more than one type of protection

More than one type of protection could be linked to a single product, eg you could:

  • register the name and logo as a trade mark
  • protect a product’s unique shape as a registered design
  • patent a completely new working part
  • use copyright to protect drawings of the product

Getting help

Consider which type of protection you need. You can: