When you are self-employed, you may have products and inventions which are your own and you don’t want others using them as their own concept. During discussions regarding the development of your plans for these assets, you’ll hear the term ‘intellectual property’ being used. It could well be a new concept to understand, so here is a guide to what it means and why it’s important.
Intellectual Property: An overview
Intellectual property covers the legal ownership of assets borne as a result of creativity and the protection of them from theft or being copied. Having protection in place means that other companies can’t steal your logo, copy your new products or use your branding design as their own.
Intellectual property covers:
- Product names
- Specific design of a product
- Anything you make, write or produce
What is classed as intellectual property
Intellectual property is anything which is unique and you have created yourself. Ideas on their own don’t count, such as a great concept for a new product or a book you have in your head to write. It only becomes intellectual property once it’s a physical item or you’ve actually written the words.
When you create the intellectual property or if you’ve bought the rights from the original creator, you then become the owner. If you have a well-known product name which is a brand and may need a trade mark, you are also classed as being the owner of this name. If you were employed by someone to create the work then you wouldn’t normally be able to claim that you are the owner of the completed intellectual property.
Protecting intellectual property
Specialists such as London IP can give advice on every aspect of intellectual property, including how you can protect your products, brands and inventions.
There are a number of different types of protection available for intellectual property and having the right kind in place means you won’t suffer any kind of loss. Patents, copyright and trademarks are the usual protection put in place and whilst you have some automatic legal rights, you will need to cover yourself for many scenarios.
- Automatic protection
There are two categories which come under the heading of automatic protection; copyright and design right. The former covers areas of work such as film, TV, literary works, web content and recording of sound. The latter refers to the configuration and shape of the item.
- Protection where application is required
If you have a new product name or a logo, then an application for a trademark will be required. To protect the overall look and design of an item or the packaging, talking to experts about registered design protection is essential and the patent process will be necessary to stop competitors stealing your inventions.
For some situations, more than one kind of protection will be needed for different areas of intellectual property. An example would be a trademark required for a new logo, the copyright for the blueprints of the first product to market, a patent for a new part of the machinery to create the products and a registered design because of the unique shape. This makes it all the more important to find out how intellectual property affects you from as early in the planning process as possible to ensure you have the legal protection in place you need.