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What You Should Know About IP Law

We are fully immersed in the digital world and there is no escaping. Technology has encroached on to almost every part of our lives, ultimately meaning the boundaries between work and life are becoming increasingly blurred and creativity has free reign 24 hours a day. Young entrepreneurs are giving birth to successful start-ups all over the world, showcasing innovative products and services; often providing solutions to issues that have plagued industries for years. It is for this reason that IP Law is becoming more prevalent in today’s society.

IP, or Intellectual property is a classification within the law that applies to impalpable ingenuity; ideas, strategies, inventions and artistic and creative work. In a nut shell, the fruits of your mental labour, and Taylor Rose TTKW outline the ways that you can protect these precious fruits depending on their category.

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Copyright

Copyright Law is a legal right that gives the owner of the work control over their work, including how it is used. The owner of the copyright is entitled to use the work themselves as well as sell or licence it to a 3rd party. To be eligible to receive a copyright, the work is required to be original and the creation of it must have involved skill, judgement or labour.

The length of time that a copyright lasts for depends on the type of work it is and whether or not it is published; in the UK a copyright can last for up to 70 years. In the majority of copyright cases, the ownership belongs to the creator of the work, however there are exceptions to this within the realms of photography, videography and recorded sound.

Copyright protection is an automatic right and is not required to be registered. However it is good practice to use the copyright symbol along with your name and date along with keeping a personal record in which the date of creation and ownership  which can be done by depositing a dated copy with a solicitor. Keeping previous drafts of work or examples of its evolution is a method of proving that the work is yours.

Should you decide to sell or licence the work to others, a legal contract is recommended.

Trademark

The Trade Marks Directive defines trademarks as “Any sign capable of being represented geographically, particularly words, including personal names, designs, letters, numerals, the shape of goods or of their packaging, provided that such signs are capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one undertaking from of other undertakings”.

The function of a trademark is to distinguish products or services between traders and guarantee its origin, this can be in the form of logos, sounds, words and slogans. It is possible for the similar, or even identical marks to be registered, providing that they are not in the same class; for instance Cross plumbing, Cross taxis and Cross shoes.

Trademarks are required to be formally registered to protect the brand, and it is recommend that you conduct a thorough search to ensure that you are do not infringe another person’s rights. The search can be conducted using online search engines, trade mark registries or UK intellectual property office (three are other bodies that can be used should you wish to use the trade mark internationally); alternatively you could use a trade mark professional to undertake the search.

The laws surrounding trademark infringements, the defence and ‘threats trap’ can be complicated and it is absolutely worth consulting a professional before taking ANY action.

You are able to file a trade mark application yourself, details of the application process can be found here.

Patent

Patents are directly related to inventions (think Dyson) and are granted by the Government. A patent will legally prevent other parties from making, using or profiting from the invention with the owner’s permission.

For an invention to be granted a patent it must meet certain requirements, such as be new and never have been made in any way previously, involve an ‘inventive step’ and be capable or being made or used within some industry. There are also specific guidelines that detail inventions that would NOT be patentable.

Being granted a patent gives you the right to take legal action who are infringing; if a patent has not been granted by the invention has been put into the public domain then there is no protection and patent will not be granted.

It is in the owner’s best interests to keep any invention confidential until it has been filed at The UK Intellectual Property Office.

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