Intellectual property (IP) is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law. Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Common types of intellectual property rights include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets in some jurisdictions.
Although many of the legal principles governing intellectual property have evolved over centuries, it was not until the 19th century that the term intellectual property began to be used, and not until the late 20th century that it became commonplace in the majority of the world. The British Statute of Anne 1710 and the Statute of Monopolies 1623 are now seen as the origins of copyright and patent law respectively.
Your IP is one of your most valuable businessassets. It can increase your competitiveness and contribute to your businesses success and allow you to make the most of its value. We know that IP is often misunderstood and, so,easily overlooked. But you must remember that if you fail to protect your IP it may put your business at risk. If you do not look after your IP rights, others can take advantage of your competitive edge. Because IP assets cannot be seen or touched it is sometimes hard to appreciate their true value. However, a basic understanding of the law and its principles will help make sure that you make the most of the mechanisms designed to protect them. For example, you could protect:
► the branding of your goods / services using aregistered trade mark
► the way your product looks using a registered design
► how the technology works using a patent
► any literature or artistic work automaticallyusing copyright
Where do you go?
There are several offices you will have to relate to depending on where you will be seeking protection.
For the UK visit The Intellectual Property Office
For the Europe visit The Intellectual Property Office
For the US visit The Intellectual Property Office
So how can you best protect your interests?
Read our “10 ways to protect your IP Rights“, ask us for advice, or contact the institutions directly.