Have you got a million dollar idea, but afraid of competition stealing it? This guide will give you a basic guide on how to protect your brilliant idea!

You’ve got a few great established ideas which you feel will be vital assets in the progression of your business, but you feel there is nothing to oppose big and more established companies or competitors from simply taking your idea, a little like The Social Network. A little group of rights Untitled called Intellectual Property (IP) can be used to prevent such shenanigans from happening. They can be registered via the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Here are the basics.

IP focuses on creativity within a company which and can include anything from a brand to a song, and gives legal rights to these ideas which can be bought and sold. The aspects it covers include:

➢ Patents

➢ Trademarks

➢ Design Rights

➢ Copyrights

Patents
A patent is a set of rights which protect an invention and all its aspects i.e. design, configuration, mechanisms etc. Protection is limited for a period of time, generally 20 years, before expiration and freedom of use by other parties. This invention must be new, have capability of usage within an industry and be innovative within its related industry such that it is not obvious to experts in the relevant field. There are some exceptions such as medical treatment not being able to be patented for obvious reasons.

Trademarks
A trademark is a distinguishing sign which identifies a product and/or a service given by a business. Aspects of the sign that can be patented include a colour, an arrangement of colours, a font etc. A registered trade mark must be renewed every 10 years to be kept it in force.

Copyrights
Copyright gives a set of rights to creative and artistic works which protect the manner in which concepts and ideas are conveyed and expressed. Copyright does not require renewal if registered after the dates expressed in the Copyright Renewal Act of 1992.

Design Rights
Design rights protect “the appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product or ornamentation.” This must be registered in the countries which you wish to protect the replication of your design.

IP encourages innovation and reassures us of the protection we have against exploitation from other organisations. Without it economic growth would be minimal regardless of the sector, the bigger and more established companies would be dominant in all sectors and it allows for development within the highly competitive business world. Be sure you read further into these aspects and see how they can fully benefit your progress. Check out the IPO official website: www.ipo.gov.uk


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