About IP

About IP

Intellectual property is something unique that you physically create. It could be an amazing invention, machine or medicine; a book, song or work of art; a business name or product design.

Because these creations have value – commercially and culturally – since 1852, the UK Intellectual Property Office has offered protection for intellectual property. Today, that protection includes patents, registered designs, trade marks and copyright.

This protection means that inventors, artists and authors get the credit they deserve for their creations. It also means that businesses are protected from people stealing or copying their name, logo or products. That isn’t just good for them: it’s important for consumers too, so they know what they are buying and who they are buying from.

Protection for IP is essential for a healthy creative industry. It encourages entrepreneurs and supports commercial research. That’s why an understanding of IP is important for people in lots of different careers. After all, if you spend the time creating, developing or discovering something, wouldn’t you want the credit for it?

  • An idea alone is not intellectual property. For example, an idea for a book doesn’t count, but the words you’ve written do.
  • IP can be bought and sold – for example, when a large company buys a small company so it can own its discoveries.
  • If properly managed, IP can amount to 70% of a business’s value.
  • Some types of IP are automatic – like copyright for books, art, films, music etc – and some you have to apply for (like patents and trade marks).

Find out more about the different sorts of IP and how to apply for them

Who is the IPO

The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is the official government body responsible for intellectual property (IP) rights including patents, designs, trade marks and copyright. Until 2007, we were known as The Patent Office.

We grant patents, trade marks and design rights in the UK. In 2014/15, we granted more than 50,000 trade marks and received almost 23,000 patent applications.

We also help protect the IP of UK businesses. For example, we work with the police and Trading Standards to help reduce the flow of counterfeit goods into the UK. Copyright theft in film, video and TV is estimated to cost UK businesses around £500m a year

One of our aims is to help future generations of inventors, artists and entrepreneurs get the credit their creativity deserves. This site is part of our work to do that – providing a range of insights into IP, why protecting it matters and how you can protect it.

Explore our teaching resources

Find out more about the UK IPO’s work

Find out more about how copyright law works

About EUIPO.

The European Intellectual Property Office, based in Alicante (Spain) is an agency of the EU.  It was set up in 1994 to manage the European Union trade mark (EUTM) and, as and from 2003, the Registered Community Design (RCD).  Both the EUTM and the RCD offer unitary IP protection across all 28 Member States of the EU.  Companies ranging from SMEs to multinationals use the EUTM and RCD to protect their rights in the EU's internal market.  EUIPO also incorporates the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights. 

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