'Intellectual property' is a generic term which refers to 'intangible' assets such as your trade marks, product designs, copyright works and inventions which might be protected by a patent.
The value of these assets might not appear on your balance sheet but their value to you cannot be underestimated.
At Camerons, we can advise you on registration requirements and what to do if another person or organisation infringes your intellectual property. The importance of taking action to protect your intellectual property cannot be overstated. Allowing others to use your property without permission might well affect your ability to prevent abuse by others at a later stage.
Copyright is an exclusive right to exploit your original works and to stop others from doing so by copying or adapting or amending them. Why should someone take something for nothing and thereby benefit?
Copyright protection extends not only to written, sound and artistic works; it also protects computer programs, reports, drawings, creative databases, photographs, compilations and other works such as films and broadcasts. Have you had a bright idea on which you have worked hard and long, only to find that an employee or competitor, or even an unknown person or entity, has used it for its own purposes? Injunctions can be obtained to prevent the abuse of your rights.
European Community Unregistered Design Right (UDR) and, in the UK, British UDR provides informal short term protection for your artistic shaped designs that are here today and not quite gone tomorrow - but perhaps in a few years - where the time delay and costs make registering your design undesirable. UDR bridges the protection afforded by Copyright and Registered Designs. So if you have an original design (it need not be novel) and you believe it has been copied, you should act quickly to protect your work.
The name and look (or 'get up') by which your organisation is recognised by the public, and the goodwill it generates, is of fundamental importance to its success. The branding you apply to your business or charity, including logos, straplines, and other marks are unique to you. They differentiate you from the competition.
Registered trade marks give the owner a monopoly right to use that mark for the goods or services for which it is registered in the country of registration. The owner has the right to oppose the use by others of similar marks on similar goods and services. This protection is enjoyed so long as the registration is maintained and the marks continue to be used. Allowing others to use your marks without objection can lead to the mark being invalid.
Unregistered trademarks are all around you, being used by charities and businesses which are identified by their name and branding. There might be protection even for unregistered marks where your customers or clients, donors or sponsors, are misled into thinking that a competitor is your organisation where that competitor has ‘passed off’ your name or branding style as his own.
A patent gives temporary protection (of up to 20 years from filing) to your inventions. It is possible to apply for a patent at a national level through the Patent Office, or at a European level through the European Patent office or even at an international level through the World Intellectual Property Organisation in Geneva. We work closely with a firm of Patent Agents to provide a comprehensive service to our clients.