A trade mark protects things like brands, business names, product names, advertising slogans and logos.
If you have a business idea for a new service offering, this may be the best and only way to gain some protection.
A good example is eBay. There are other o
nline auction services, but the reputation eBay has built, and the strength of their brand steers people to use them in preference to others.
The name cannot be descriptive, or already in use for the same goods or services.
Conduct your own searches to see whether it is new. The UK IPO
have some useful information on their website.
To understand more about the details of Trade Marks have a look at our FAQ page or at the book written by our experts the Dummies Guide to Intellectual Property. <<back
Protect Your Idea !
A patent can protect how your idea works. It can protect what it is made of, and even how it is made. It does not protect the appearance of your idea. For that you must register a Design Right. So i
f your idea has a new function or any technical elements, use a patent to protect them.
Keep the idea secret! Conduct your own searches to see what else is out there. Have a professional patent search
conducted before you invest any money in your idea to make sure that the idea is not already owned by someone else.
TBB can do this for you. Download our Inventor Pack
for more information.
To understand more about how to patent a product and what a patent costs or the patenting process and patent law in general, see our Dummies Guide to Intellectual Property written by our experts, or have a look at our Patents page. <<back
Copyright is an automatic right. If you write a book or draw a picture then it automatically belongs to you. You are the author of any artistic or literary work. Copyright exists as soon as you create the work. Copyright can only be used to stop somene copying the work. You cannot use it to protect the idea that is described in the work. So it
does not stop the idea described being used by someone else.
We often get asked how to copyright an idea.
By committing your drawings to paper, or typing your product description, you automatically enjoy copyright in these creations.
You cannot register copyright in the UK and you do not need to provided that you can show you produced the original work.
To understand more about the details of Copyright have a look at our FAQ page or the book written by our experts the Dummies Guide to Intellectual Property. <<back
If your idea is simply a new look for an existing product with no technical changes then design rights can be a cost-effective route to give you some protection.
We often get asked how to patent a design. The answer is that you canít! Unregistered design rights exist automatically, but you would have to prove that someone has copied your design. If you register your design with the UK IPO then the person who supposedly copied it must prove that they did not. If you need to protect how the idea works, then you should consider using a patent.
For more information about designs, have a look at our Designs page, or check the UK IPO website. To understand more about the details of Registered Design have a look at the book written by our experts the Dummies Guide to Intellectual Property. <<back
There are four main ways to protect an idea. They are called Intellectual Property Rights or IPR for short. These are ways of proving that you own the idea. They can be used to stop other people copying your idea.
The four main ways are;
- patents this is about how things work and what they are made of
- registered designs this is about what things look like
- trade marks this is about brands and product names
- copyright this is about written words including software, or pictures and drawings
The UK Patent Office, now called the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO), is the Government organisation that controls IPR. It runs the patent registration process, registers designs and issues trade marks. They also produce some very useful free guides. You can download all the forms that you need for these services from the IPO web site .
You can use more than one type of protection for your idea. The types of intellectual property rights (IPRs) are described below. You cannot protect a technical function with copyright or a design right. You cannot rely on a patent to protect the appearance or product name. So sometimes you need to use more than one type of protection for your idea. If in doubt, seek advice by contacting our IP experts or have a look at Our Frequently Asked Intellectual Property Questions page. You can also look at our top ten tips for Inventors.
Keep it Confidential!
If you have to tell other people about your idea before you have a patent application or registered design application in place, then make sure that they sign a confidentiality agreement. The TBB Inventor Pack contains a typical agreement that you may wish to adapt for your own use. To apply for a patent, you must not have disclosed your idea without one of these in place!
The pictures below show different kinds of ideas. Click on them to find out how to protect them.