What is IP?

Recognising Intellectual Property in Your Business

What is IP?

Unlike the products they protect, IP assets cannot be seen or touched. So, it can be difficult for businesses to appreciate their true value. Like other forms of property, you can buy, sell and license IP. IP Rights can enable their owner to take action under civil law to try and stop others from replicating, using, importing or selling their creation.

The different types of intellectual property rights are:

Patents protect new inventions and cover how products work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made.

Trade marks protect brands. This could be for a business name, a product or a service. The trade mark could be made up of words, logos or a combination of both and can even be sound or action based.

Design protects the overall visual appearance of a product.

Copyright protects literature, artistic works, photographs, music, dramatic works, software, databases, films, radio and television broadcasts, sound recordings and published editions.

Trade secrets might also be an important part of your business. The law of confidentiality protects trade secrets. To keep trade secrets protected, you must establish that the information is confidential, and ensure that anyone you tell about it signs a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). If they then tell anyone about it, this is a breach of confidence and you can take legal action against them.

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IP in business planning

Your business builds goodwill and recognition through your brand, product or service. This value builds up over time and becomes integral linked to your business’s IP assets. If used well, IP can offer a solid platform for any business to grow. How you plan, manage and protect your ideas should be a crucial feature in your business planning. What seems unimportant today could be worth millions of pounds in the future, if protected.

Getting help

One of the first things you should do is understand if you should protect your IP. You could invest time and money in your business, only to later find the IP already belongs to someone else.

The free, fast and easy-to-use online IP Health Check is used by thousands of businesses to both identify their IP assets and provide advice on how to protect them.

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