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How to protect your intellectual property

1. What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property is something you create that’s unique.

It includes copyright, patents and trademarks, and can be:

  • something you invent, like a new product
  • a product’s design or appearance
  • a brand or logo
  • written work, like content on a website or in a brochure
  • artistic work, like photography or illustrations
  • film recordings or musical compositions
  • computer software

You can’t protect an idea – but you can often protect what you do with it.

For example, you can’t protect an idea for a book. But if you write it, you can protect the words you’ve written.

Who owns intellectual property

If you create something, you or your business usually own the intellectual property.

If someone you employ or subcontract creates something for you, their contract with you should clarify who owns the intellectual property.

Protecting your intellectual property rights

Protecting your intellectual property allows you to:

  • stop others using what you’ve created without your permission
  • charge others for the right to use what you’ve created

Getting the right type of protection

The type of protection you need depends on what you’ve created. For example, artistic works are protected by copyright, while inventions are protected by patents.

You can use more than one type of protection for the same product.

For example, you can patent your product and register its name as a trademark.

You can check which type of intellectual property protection best suits you and how to make the most of it by using the Intellectual Property Office’s healthcheck.