Your intellectual property is a result of all of the hard work and time that you devoted to creating it, and the thought of someone else benefitting from this is not pleasant. It is your business that has gone to the effort of bringing it into being, and so it is only you who should reap the reward.
Unfortunately, not everyone sees this the same way, and intellectual property crimes are on the increase. Those who do not have the skills or inclination to produce their own work may endeavour to benefit from yours instead, and this is something that you need to put a stop to before it begins.
To ensure you can do that, here’s a brief guide to help you out…
What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property covers a wide range of your business’ assets, from the names of your products or brand to your inventions, the design or look of your creations, and the things that you write, make, and produce.
Essentially, the term covers anything that you have physically created. This means that although an idea for something doesn’t count, brought to fruition it does. Thus, an idea for a computer program wouldn’t be covered, but the coding would.
When Do You Own Intellectual Property?
Ownership of intellectual property will automatically be vested in you if:
- You have created it (and it complies with the requirements for copyright, a patent, or a design);
- You have purchased the rights to ownership from the creator or the last person to own it;
- You have a brand that could qualify as a trademark, such as a recognised product name.
Where you have created this work on behalf of an employer, ownership will usually vest in them rather than you.
How to Protect Your Intellectual Property
There are lots of ways of protecting your intellectual property in order to prevent other people from stealing or replicating it, and where you have gone to the effort of doing so, it becomes far easier to take legal action against any such perpetrators.
Some protection is automatic, such as copyright and design right. The former covers writing and literary works, art, photography, films, TV, music, web content, and sound recordings; the latter the shapes of objects. They protect you with no active effort on your behalf, and are a fantastic defence against intellectual property theft.
Additional safeguards must be actively applied for, and these include:
These protect product names, logos, and jingles.
Registered designs cover the appearance of a product, encompassing factors such as their shape, packaging, colours, and so on.
Patents are essentially a way of safeguarding inventions.
Intellectual property law can be confusing, but there are lots of resources available to help you make sense of it. The IP Equip service, in particular, is very useful, and will help you to work out the type of intellectual property that you possess, and there is also a great deal of information scattered across the internet. Legal professionals like Withers Worldwide can be a further invaluable source of assistance, particularly for those who prefer not to be left to their own devices.
Get to grips with your rights today to stop anyone else from taking advantage of your hard work, time, and skill.