Protection of an invention, a creative design, a trade mark and copyright is a prerequisite if you are starting a business and/or seeking a route to market for a new product.
In order to appreciate the most cost effective way of ensuring that the interests of you and/or your business are best served, it is imperative that you have some knowledge of the different forms of protection for your Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).
1. PROTECTING AN INVENTION
An invention may be protected by a Patent; this is a temporary legal right that is granted by the government as a reward for a unique invention, giving you, the inventor, a way to keep others from stealing the fruits of your labour – the invention - for up to twenty (20) years subject to payment of annual renewal fees.
Patent Law defines an invention as a technological advance that’s useful, new, and isn’t obvious to a person with ordinary skill in the pertinent field of technology.
2. PROTECTING A TRADE MARK
A Trade Mark may be protected by registration at the Patent Office and entered on the Trade Marks Register for a period of ten (10) years and may be renewed for like periods ad infinitum upon payment of renewal fees.
A Trade Mark can be in any distinctive format that readily identifies the origin of products and services marketed under the Trade Mark.
A Trade mark does not have to be registered and may be used and establish a reputation for products and services from a particular source; however, actions for plagiarism and infringement of rights in a Trade Mark are most advantageously dealt with if a Trade Mark is registered.
3. PROTECTING A DESIGN
A registered design automatically gives you a monopoly on the rights to use the design, which may be:
a) the shape and configuration of a product, e.g. a roof tile or paving block;
b) the decoration applied to a product, e.g. a pattern on a piece of crockery; or,
c) the shape and the decoration of a product, e.g. the shape of a teapot that has a specific pattern applied thereto.
Registering a design at the UK-IPO gives you the exclusive right to the design in the UK and the Isle of Man for up to twenty-five (25) years made up of an initial five year term and four further like terms upon payment of requisite renewal fees.
4. COPYRIGHT PROTECTION
Copyright is primarily an exclusive right to reproduce an original work and may belong to the person who created the work or that person’s employer.
There is no means of registering Copyright in a work in any country with the exception of the USA, which has a Copyright Office where Copyrights are recorded usually in order for the Copyright owner to take action against copying of their exclusive rights.
Copyright may subsist in any original work by an author, e.g.:
a) a book or other literary work;
b) music and/or lyrics;
c) the design of a piece of machinery;
d) a range of furniture; or,
e) software instructions for a computer.
5. THE UK-IPO, THE PATENT OFFICE
Applications for Patents, Registered Designs and Trade Marks are filed at the Patent office in Newport, South Wales.
Advice and information may be viewed on the Patent Office home page at: www.ipo.gov.uk; or by calling 0300 300 2000.#
*John Grant is Senior Patent Attorney at Trevor Baylis Brands (TBB) plc. TBB has provided advice to thousands of individuals and companies on the best way to develop their business and protect their intellectual property. Building Enterprise (BE) Ltd is a new development from TBB offering a one-stop shop for innovation development, helping to take initial ideas through to a successful commercial outcome.*
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