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Understanding Intellectual Property

Understanding Intellectual Property

To better understand IP rights consider that they’re separate to physical objects.

Intellectual property rights are copyright, trademarks, patents, designs and confidential information or trade secrets. They protect creations, such as writing, art, inventions, designs, names, computer code etc.

For example, your phone features IP rights that enable it to function. Indeed, some of the IP rights in the phone probably belong to third parties. The brand owner secures a licence to use them to make and sell phones. The question of what IP rights exist in the phone, and who owns them doesn’t affect you though.

The phone belongs to you. You have all the permissions you need to use it for your needs. If you want to sell the phone, you can go ahead and do so.

We may own a book, or a work of art, or a piece of furniture but we won’t own the copyright or design rights in those objects. This means our ownership of an object such as a book, doesn’t come with a licence to exploit the IP rights in it. So, we may not photocopy the entire book for sale.

This separation between an object and the IP rights included in it, applies in the realm of intangible objects too.

In the digital world the assets we create might involve getting a website designed, or a logo created, or a piece of software developed. These objects are covered by IP rights.

The IP rights in our website, or logo, or software are separate. Unless we secure the IP rights in them, we will only have the right to USE the objects in our business. For most practical purposes this might be enough.

But if we ever need to take steps to stop a third party using our logo, we'd have to prove that we’re the copyright owner. Similarly, if we want to licence a third party to use our software, or website we need to own the IP rights in them. We also need to own the IP rights if we want to change the logo in any way.

This means we must first consider IP ownership before commissioning assets. It's so easy to overlook IP ownership in the day-to-day busy ness of life though.

That’s why it’s essential to have a process that ensures you always secure ownership in IP that’s created for you. If it's not appropriate to ask for the IP rights to be passed on to you, your process should flag up the need to secure an appropriate licence. Like that you'll be able to do what you want to do with the objects you own.

I’ve developed such a process along with templates. They’re available in my Brand Tuned program so you can secure IP rights on an ongoing basis.

This is such an important issue that our Silver and Gold trademark clients automatically get access to the program. I also include a mini IP audit for them too. Like that I can show clients how and when to use the process and templates.

Have you put your IP house in order? If not consider buying access to the Brand Tuned program. Alternatively, enquire about registering your UK trademark.