Patents & IP
If you have an idea you may want to consider protecting it in some way from being copied by others. Intellectual Property or IP is the term given to the creative work of an individual or company. This could be a product idea, invention or design.
In the UK all new designs are automatically covered by Design Right. This is a UK legal protection given to unregistered designs. Design Right covers the internal and external 3 dimensional shape or configuration of an original design and lasts for 15 years (10 years from first marketing). The holder of the Design Right has exclusive use of the design for commercial purposes however if they wish to stop someone from infringing their Design Right they must be able to prove that they created the original design.
Idea Reality can help an inventor or company fully draw up their ideas and designs so that they have a record of the work for the purposes of Design Right. The simplest thing to then do is have a copy of the design documents sent to yourself (and also your solicitor for added protection) via a postal service such as Royal Mail Special Delivery in a sealed tamper-proof envelope. The official postage stamps and receipt should then prove to a court that the idea was yours first.
Design Right can only go so far to protect your IP because it has not been officially registered by the Intellectual Property Office and you must be able to prove your ownership. There are 2 main forms of registering your designs:
What is a patent?
“A patent protects new inventions and covers how things work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made. If a patent application is granted, it gives the owner the ability to take a legal action under civil law to try to stop others from making, using, importing or selling the invention without permission.” www.ipo.gov.uk
Patents are generally considered to be the best method of protecting an invention and are recognised globally. Unfortunately patents can be expensive and complex and often require a patent attorney in order to ensure they are described and detailed correctly. It is possible to patent an invention or design yourself and the Intellectual Property Office offers advice to help. Idea Reality can provide the necessary drawings and diagrams in suitable formats for your patent application or file an application for you through our recommended patent attorneys..
Why register a design?
“A Registered Design grants exclusive rights in the look and appearance of your product. You can stop people making, offering, putting on the market, importing, exporting, using or stocking for those purposes, a product to which your design is applied.” www.ipo.gov.uk
Whilst a Registered Design does not give protection to the way your invention works it does protect its form and appearance. The existence of your registration may be enough to deter someone from copying your design all together and is a very cost effective way of officially registering your design. It also allows you to sell or licence your designs to somebody else to use. Idea Reality can help draw up your designs and plans in respect to officially registering your design.
Other types of intellectual property (IP)
What other protection is there?
Copyright is a simple automatic protection for your documents and drawings. It is best practice to ensure all sensitive paperwork and imagery has a copyright © symbol displayed along with your name and the year in which it was created.
Trademarks protect names, brands and logos from being copied and can be very important when establishing your brand. Trademarks can be applied for through the Intellectual Property Office.