Types of Intellectual Property

Those people outside the “creative” industries may not be aware of what constitutes intellectual property, but the definition may actually apply to everyone, and learning about the different types of intellectual property could prove to be very important. There are four types of IP:

A patent

A patent is designed to protect new inventions, the way they work, what they are made of and how they are made. A patent has to be applied for by the person who invented the particular device or creation and if a patent is granted to them, the owner has the right under civil law to make a legal claim against anyone who would try to sell, make, use or import the particular invention without their permission.

Obtaining a patent is a relatively straightforward process but in order to ensure that the various processes and the outcome of the patent is correct, many people choose to use IP lawyers.

Trade Marks

Often referring to clothing or technology but actually covering any goods or services offered by a business, a trade mark (or “brand”) refers to a mark which helps the inventor, their customers and any competitors.  Trade marks can be applied for using IP solicitors to apply at the Intellectual Property Office and in addition to protecting the rights of the trademark holder, they can act as marketing tools as they become so synonymous with the particular brand they represent.

Many companies choose to add details to their website terms and conditions which explain their trademark and the punishment for the recreation or improper use of this.  Therefore when drafting website terms and conditions, it is important for businesses to consider their position on trademarks should these exist, if not then they should consider sourcing a well known trademark attorney in London, Manchester, Birmingham or other big city law firms that will have a wealth of experience in the industry. For help with understanding drafting website terms and conditions visit the resources section for internet and digital media on Waterfront Solicitors.

Registered Design

A Registered Design is the legal right which protects the appearance of a product. Once the process has been completed, a registered design is legally defined as “the appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product or ornamentation.”

A product may constitute any three or two dimensional product but this does not extend to computer programmes. Their protection comes under copyright and the legalities of computer soft and hardware is covered legally by technology lawyers.


Copyright protects a variety of intellectual work including (but not limited to) novels, manuals, articles, databases, computer programmes dances, works of art, song lyrics, recordings and broadcasts.

The use of a copyright is that once it has been placed upon a certain medium as above, that medium cannot be reused or copied without the owners’ permission. The definition of copyright is complex and does not protect ideas, it only protects work which is complete and fixed, therefore a draft piece of writing may not be covered but a finished manuscript is.

Upholding Intellectual Property Rights

In order to obtain any of the intellectual property rights as discussed, it is advisable to seek legal advice from corporate law firms in London for example IP Lawyers at Waterfront Solicitors can to ensure that all of the correct rules have been adhered to and the IP is correctly added.

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