If you're in the business of inventing and innovating, then you've probably already heard of the Intellectual Property Office, or IPO. They're the official body that oversees all forms of IP rights, from patents and designs to trademarks and copyrights. IP is an often misunderstood part of the law, and a lot of businesses aren't getting the best out of their innovations, so it's worth taking a closer look at how to protect your work and boost the benefits it brings you.
Generally, you can call something your Intellectual Property if you:
Created it yourself.
Bought the IP rights from the creator or a previous owner.
Have a brand that qualifies for a trademark.
The type of protection you're after depends on what you're trying to protect, and knowing the difference can save a lot of trouble. Here are the basics to get you started:
DesignRight This applies to the actual shape or arrangement of your creation. Again, you'll get this automatically when you create something it applies to - but you'll need to be able to prove you're the originator. Keeping design drawings or photos with a bank or solicitor is a pretty good move, but simply sending them to yourself by registered, dated post is a step in the right direction.
Trademarks Trademarks are most often used to protect the name of a product or service. You actually have to apply to get one of these, which can take around four months to process, but you'll be able to use the ® symbol next to your brand if you qualify.
Registered Designs Like design rights, these protect the physical shape and appearance of your creation. However, there are some pretty major differences. They're not automatic or free, but they do cover more aspects of the design (textures, colours and decoration, for example). A registered design makes it easier to protect your work if your rights have been infringed - or to sell those rights on.
Patents These tend to be used for physical inventions, tools, machines and certain types of software. They're expensive and can take an incredible five years to process, but are an extremely good form of protection if you need them. See here for more information about patents.
Protecting your Intellectual Property can be a complicated business, but there are ways to cut the cost and get more out of your creations and inventions. If you're pushing against the limits of what we know or what we can do in the fields of science or technology, then the Research & Development Tax Relief scheme can be an enormous boost to your business.
RIFT R&D are the experts in making innovation pay, so get in touch to find out how the problems you're solving could be worth an average of £49,000 in tax credits.
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