- Patents protect inventions by providing the owner of the patent (patentee) a monopoly granted by the state for up to twenty years in return for a disclosure of the invention to the public. Patents are valuable because the right allows the patentee to prevent a third party from making, using or selling the invention without permission. Granting permission can be in the form of a royalty bearing licence; where no licence is granted, the third party may infringe which can lead to the payment of damages to the patentee.
- Patent rights are granted after examination of the patent application in which the invention is described. In order to be granted, the invention as described in the patent application must be new and inventive.
- Trade marks protects brands which normally take the form of words and logos. A trade mark may be unregistered or registered. Registered trade marks attract statutory rights which protect the trade mark owner from infringement of their rights. It is easier to protect a brand by registering a trade mark rather than relying on the common law rights that protect unregistered rights.
- A trade mark is a sign which can distinguish your goods and services from those of your competitors. It can be for example words, logos or a combination of both.
- A registered design is a legal right which protects the overall visual appearance of a product. The visual features that form the design include such things as the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture, materials and the ornamentation of the product which, when applied to the product, give it a unique appearance. You can also register a design showing the ornamentation alone e.g. a pattern to go on a product or a stylised logo.. A registered design can be a valuable asset, allowing you to stop others from creating designs which are too similar to yours; registration gives you protection for the visual appearance of the product but not for what it is made from or how it works.
Copyright exists automatically in for “works” such as,
- literary works, including novels, instruction manuals, computer programs, song lyrics, newspaper articles and some types of database
- dramatic works, including dance or mime
- musical works
- artistic works, including paintings, engravings, photographs, sculptures, collages, architecture, technical drawings, diagrams, maps and logos
- layouts or typographical arrangements used to publish a work, for a book for instance
- recordings of a work, including sound and film
- broadcasts of a work
- The existence of copyright means that any use of the work without your permission is an infringement of the rights of the copyright owner. The existence of copyright may be enough on its own to stop others from trying to exploit your material. If it does not, it gives you the right to take legal action to stop them exploiting your copyright, and to claim damages.