Business owners - things you should know about intellectual property

Most businesses own some intellectual property – many without even realising it. It may be designs or flowcharts, manuals which they have created, an invention, a logo or any written work and it’s important to be able to identify and protect it. These unseen assets will add value to your business.

It is important to protect your intellectual property in the right way. For example, if you own a domain name for your website or have registered a limited company name you still need carry out a check of registered trademarks and logo with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to ensure the name and logo are free to use, and if so, register them to preserve your rights to use them exclusively in your industry.

If you have invented something you will require a patent to protect your idea from being copied. A patent covers how products work, how they are made, what they do, how they do it and what they are made of. It also gives you 20 years of monopoly on the market to produce your product and protects you legally from someone importing a copy without your permission.

"It’s likely that most businesses will own some form of copyright protected material in their business as it covers any creative works – written or recorded. Copyright will give you automatic rights in the UK but it is usual to display the © symbol on important works," advises Commercial Solicitor Sarah Sillar.

Design Right is an automatic right in the UK and will protect the shape and configuration of any design for between 10 and 15 years. If you wish to have enhanced protection a Registered Design will give you this. Registered Design protects 2D and 3D aspects of your creative idea and lasts for up to 25 years. Consider having a Non-Disclosure Agreement when discussing your ideas or inventions to ensure strict confidentiality.

Our Commercial Team, based in Christchurch, also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Sarah or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.