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Intellectual Property Rights - Trademarks, Patents,
Copyright, Design Rights and Confidential
Information
INTRODUCTION
•
Intellectual property is the generic term given to a collection of rights which protect a person's
inventions, ideas and original works, skills and efforts against copying and imitation.
•
There are a number of different elements:
•
•
confidential information
•
copyright
•
unregistered design right
•
registered designs
•
trade and service marks
•
patents
Every business, even one just starting up, should take professional advice and take all necessary steps
to protect its Intellectual Property rights. Failure to do so can be very detrimental to the business.
CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION
Business Support Helpline
Croner House
Wheatfield Way
Hinckley
Leicestershire
LE10 1YG
Tel: 08707 44 00 79
www.cronerconsulting.co.uk
•
Every business has information that needs to be kept confidential; any disclosure would be highly
damaging if it fell into the hands of competing businesses. Examples include price lists and customer
lists.
•
Release of confidential information could prevent the grant of a patent or registration of a design.
•
Businesses should take a number of positive steps:
•
have a security of information policy. The Information Security Policy Group at the DTI have
produced a number of free guidance booklets (tel: 0207 215 1962)
•
adopt full and adequate security measures and procedures. This should be allied to the
businesses security measures under the Data Protection Act 1998.
•
ensure that information is properly classified in terms of confidentiality. Employees need to be
aware which categories of information are regarded by the employer as confidential. The
information itself needs to be marked or recorded as such.
•
impose appropriate confidentiality obligations on employees. Some senior employees with
access to highly confidential information may need to have confidentiality undertakings in their
contracts of employment, which will protect the employer even after they have ceased
employment with the business.
•
be very careful in disclosing or releasing information to persons outside of the business.
Outside contractors, for example, should sign an appropriate confidentiality agreement.
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COPYRIGHT
Copyright is a property right which subsists in •
original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works
•
sound recordings, films, broadcasts or cable programmes
Copyright is governed by Statute (the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988). There are no formalities
required to acquire copyright protection in this country; the right arises when the work is created.
Copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work expires at the end of 70 years from the year of the
author's death. In practical terms, the use of the copyright symbol © with the author's name and date is
recommended, as it gives notice of the author's intention to assert his or her rights.
Ownership of the copyright in a work generally vests in the author. However, the owner of copyright in a
literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work created by an employee in the course of employment, is the
employer. Work produced in the employee's spare time can also, in some circumstances, be the property
of the employer. Persons producing commissioned works or working freelance will retain copyright in any
work produced, unless the terms of the commission or engagement specifically transfer the copyright to
the Commissioner or the engaging third party.
TRADEMARKS
•
A trademark is a word or symbol which distinguishes the goods and services of one trader from those
of others
•
To register a trademark it is necessary to make an application to the Trademarks Registry at the
Patents Office.
•
The effect of registration is that the owner of the trademark has the exclusive right to prevent other
people from using the same or a similar mark.
•
In order to qualify for registration, the mark must not be similar to others already in use.
•
Trademarks do not have to be registered, but action to prevent or stop infringement of an unregistered
mark is far more difficult. You need to show a reputation in the mark and that the public is being
confused or deceived by the rival mark.
•
Every business is well advised to trademark its products at an early stage, thereby protecting the
goodwill and reputation a business has in its products or services.
•
You need to employ a professional such as a registered trademark agent, to advise on this issue and
to make an application to the Patents Office.
PATENTS
Business Support Helpline
Croner House
Wheatfield Way
Hinckley
Leicestershire
LE10 1YG
Tel: 08707 44 00 79
www.cronerconsulting.co.uk
•
Patents protect "inventions". The owner has the exclusive use of the invention (for a maximum of 20
years).
•
The invention must have an industrial application and must be truly "new" and not obvious to a person
of ordinary skill in the industry in question.
•
You must not disclose your invention to anyone or make commercial use of it before the application is
made. If disclosure is necessary, you must get the third party to sign a confidentiality agreement.
•
Professional help is essential in this area (e.g. from a Registered Patent Agent).
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REGISTERED DESIGNS
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You can protect the "eye appeal" of an article by registration with the Patents Office. "Design"
includes•
shape
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pattern
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ornament
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Once registered, you have the exclusive right in the UK to make, import or sell the article. You must
not disclose the design to anyone prior to filing your application.
•
Certain designs cannot be registered, including those:
•
which relate to a method or principle of construction
•
where the design is dictated solely by the function the article has to perform
•
A registered design initially lasts for 5 years. It can be renewed for not more than four further periods
of 5 years.
DESIGN RIGHT
•
This is a right which arises automatically and is a right to prevent copying or imitation of certain
manufactured and consumer goods. It will protect the functional (contrast registered designs) and the
artistic aspects of the product.
•
The right applies to original, non-commonplace designs of the shape or configuration of articles.
•
Unlike registered designs, it is not a monopoly right and protection is limited to a right to prevent
copying of the design.
•
The right lasts until 10 years after first marketing.
•
Two-dimensional designs (e.g. textile or wallpaper designs) do not qualify for protection.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
Business Support Helpline
Croner House
Wheatfield Way
Hinckley
Leicestershire
LE10 1YG
Tel: 08707 44 00 79
www.cronerconsulting.co.uk
•
Carry out an audit of your products, services and information, to assess the extent of your intellectual
property.
•
Obtain professional advice regarding the steps you need to take to protect your intellectual property.
•
Obtain guidance notes from -
•
the DTI, on Information Security (0207 215 1962) and from the Office of the Data Protection
Commissioner (01625 545740)
•
The Patent Office (tel. 08459 500505)
This fact sheet is an outline of the position at the time of writing.
It offers general guidance only and should not be regarded as a complete or
authoritative statement of law.
No part of this fact sheet should be copied or transmitted to any third party.
If you wish to adapt the fact sheet for your own internal use, you must contact
the Helpline before doing so.
This fact sheet is not a substitute for accessing the Helpline
If you currently subscribe to an insured advisory service through Croner
Consulting your insurance for a particular issue covered by this policy could
be invalidated if you do not access advice via our Helplines Service and follow
such advice in accordance with the terms of your policy.
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