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"Intellectual Property is the oil of the 21st century"
- Mark Getty, Chairman of Getty Images
IP rights (copyright, patents, trade marks, design rights and trade secrets) usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time.
IP (creations of the minds) play a key part in the intellectual capital of a business entity – the value of a company’s employee knowledge, skills, business training, or any trade secrets that may provide it with a competitive advantage. It is the sum of employee expertise, organisational processes, and other intangibles that contribute to a company’s bottom line whether micro or macro.
IP rights protection is an essential ingredient to foster innovation. If protection is lost, ideas, businesses and individuals would not reap the full benefits of their creative minds and would focus less on research and development.
Imitation isn’t flattery if it costs you your business. Creators are the generators of the next ideas; copyists take the fast track to market by stealing your ideas. Keeping your IP safe and protected is paramount.
The journey from idea to marketplace takes time and investment to achieve growth, protecting your valuable IP enables you to see returns on your sweat equity.
As an IP “owner”, this gives you the right to foster innovation by conferring the exclusive right to exploit your idea, especially true for designs and patents.
Authentic IP rights’ owners usually offer their customers the safety, reliability, and quality of their purchases, enforced IP rights give assurances of authenticity.
When you have a great idea for a product or service, there will always be people who will want to duplicate your success and sell your ideas as their own. Depending on individual circumstances, you can use Patents, Trade Marks, Designs, or Copyright – all of which cover different areas of intellectual property. These can be used to prevent competitors or anyone else from using your ideas for their own profit without your consent. IP protection applies to businesses of all sizes; even huge corporations have their ideas infringed upon, resulting in multi-million-pound lawsuits; just look at the on-going disputes between Apple and Samsung over their smartphones.
A patent is granted for an invention, usually a concept or coming up with a solution to a problem. A Patent gives the inventor the power to stop others from making, using, or selling the invention without permission. It must be new and involve an inventive step and must never be publicised before the Patent is filed. It must be capable of an industrial process or method of operation.
Copyright is an automatic but unregistrable IP right in the UK and protects the owner/creator of an original work, which must demonstrate some skill, labour, or judgement in the creation. It usually lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years but there are exceptions. Works protected by copyright are diverse such as novels, artworks, photographs, music, broadcasts, technical plans, promotional literature, advertising, software, and databases.
ACID is a registered UK trade mark; it is our badge of origin. Brands distinguish the goods or services of one business from another and can be for words, slogans, logos, shapes, colours and sounds but should not be descriptive. There are 45 classes available to choose from when registering and TM searches are an essential part of the process.
A registered design protects the aesthetic or visual appearance of a product or item and protecting your design gives you peace of mind, as well as a certificate saying you “own” the design for 25 years, renewable every 5 years for a fee. A Registered design gives you exclusive rights for that appearance, to the extent that, if necessary, there is a legal right to stop an unauthorised party from producing or using your design.
Unregistered design right is similar to copyright in that it arises automatically from the act of creation of a design. It protects the shape and configuration of the design of 3D objects against copying by others. Post Brexit and the loss of the EU Unregistered Community Design a new UK Supplementary Design was introduced covering designs of colour, texture and materials.
Passing off is a legal reference for what happens when an individual or a business misrepresents someone else’s goods or services in order to try and pass them off as their own. Passing off is used to protect or safeguard the goodwill attached to an unregistered trademark.
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