A handy guide to intellectual property

Intellectual Property (IP) such as patents, trade marks, design and copyright allow you to protect your creativity and gain value from it. IP plays a huge part in the everyday life of the nation and is present in all kinds of things from your mobile phone, new literary and artistic works to the world of business. There are four types of IP; you can find out more about them below:


Patents protect inventions. How they work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made. They have to be novel or new and involve a technical step. If they are renewed every year they will last for 20 years, and will prevent others from making, using, importing or selling the invention without the owner's permission.
For more information about patents visit http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/patent.htm

Trade Marks

Protect words, names, symbols, sounds or colours that distinguish goods and services in the market place. They can last indefinitely if renewed every ten years; they protect reputations and brand values and are used as a marketing tool to promote products and services. Registered trade marks as indentified by the symbol ®.
For more information about trade marks visit http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/tm.htm


Design relates to the overall appearance of an item, the way it looks, its eye appeal! This includes every discernable feature, such as its lines, contours, colours, shape, texture, materials and decoration. Anything which gives a product its unique appearance. When renewed every 5 years the protection can last for a maximum of 25 years.
For more information about designs visit http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/design.htm

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