"What's in a name?" - Licensing and Trademarking

Securing your Intellectual property should be right near the top of all business managers and owners “things to do list”.

“What is intellectual property”? I hear someone ask……

Intellectual property (IP) is something that is unique and has been physically created by a company or by an individual.

An idea on its own does not count as IP. For example if you should have a great idea for a book the idea in itself is not IP but the words you write down on the page are and they are known as copyright and as such are protected.

Note when IP is created by a self-employed person that person owns the IP. When an employed person creates IP for the company that is employing them the company generally owns the IP.

So what exactly counts as IP and how many different types of IP are there and what should a company or individual do if they believe have created IP.


Copyright protects your work and stops other people using it without your permission. You automatically get copyright protection when you create a written work of literature, music, art or illustration, software web content and databases, sound and music recordings, film and television recordings and broadcasts.

You can mark your work with the copyright symbol “C” add your name and the date of creation. It is a good idea to make three copies at this point and send one to your solicitor to hold for you and one to your bank manager and post one to yourself the postmark will stand up in proving date of creation should you ever find yourself in dispute.


The names of your products or brands are your IP and should be protected by having them Trademarked this protects your name and the way your name or logo is presented. You should register your trademark and logo with the Intellectual property office. Once the registration has been accepted you are in a strong position to challenge any company or individual who tries to copy or imitate your unique IP.

For example if a new drinks company were to come to market and launch a fizzy drink named “Koka Cola” they would be swamped with law suits by the original and first IP owner and trademark owner who we all know and recognise is “Coca Cola”.

Design right

Design right automatically protects your design for 10 years after it was first sold or for 15 years after it was created. 

Design rights only apply to the shape and configuration of objects and how different parts of a design are arranged together.

Proving your design rights should be carried out in the same way as copyright proving. 


You can use a patent to protect your invention. It gives you the right to bring legal action against anyone who makes, uses, sells or imports it without your permission.

To be granted a patent your invention must be all of the following:-

  • Something that can be made or used.
  • New
  • Inventive not simply a modification of an existing product.

Patents are very expensive to acquire and difficult to get accepted as the process is very robust and thorough.

The question to ask yourself before you set off is…..Is your invention unique and is how it works unique and not just a modification of an existing product.

If you would like to find out more, contact [email protected]


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