5 Top Tips To Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Today is World IP Day which serves as an opportunity to celebrate how intellectual property shapes and protects the innovative solutions which inventors and creators develop all over the world. This year the World Intellectual Property Office’s theme for World IP Day is “IP and the Sustainable Development Goals” which explores how a common future can be built through innovation and creativity.

Many businesses and inventors all over the world are developing innovative and creative solutions in a bid to build a sustainable future. Kellsey Logue & Rhiannon Sheeran provide five basic tips on how your intellectual property rights can be protected whilst fostering innovation and creativity.

What is intellectual property?

There are different intellectual property (IP) rights which attach to different types of inventions, creations and works. Those IP rights are protected by law and are intended to encourage creativity and innovation as well as enabling inventors and creators to earn recognition and exploit the IP rights they have created.

Protect your IP with our 5 top tips

  1. Understand what IP you own
    IP is an umbrella term which covers a number of different types of inventions, works and creations and it may not be so obvious which IP rights attach to your creations. Some examples of IP rights include trade marks, design, copyright and patents – you may have creations which can be protected through just one or all of these IP rights.
  2. Register your IP (if it is registrable)
    There is a cost associated with registering intellectual property rights but where registration is available, it offers many advantages. Registering IP rights, for example trade marks and patents, gives the owner exclusive ownership of those rights and provides definitive evidence of the existence of the IP and who owns it.
    On the other hand, ownership of unregistered rights can be more difficult to establish, which may result in its value being diminished and it being more costly to enforce.
  3. Keep it confidential
    Failing to keep ideas and information confidential could affect your ability to seek registered protection or a competitor may beat you to it. For example, patents must not be disclosed in the public domain before the filing date of the patent application for the invention. A failure to protect the confidential nature and novelty may stop you from obtaining patent protection.
    You should put in place non-disclosure agreements if you want to speak with someone about your ideas and limit the circle in which you share the information as much as possible until the patent has been filed.
  4. Consider your IP strategy as part of your business’ growth
    WIPO’s theme for World IP Day in 2024 focuses on building a sustainable future for everyone, everywhere. Many businesses may start up in one territory but quickly expand across the globe. It is important not to forget to expand your IP protections at the same time. Whilst you may have registered protection in one territory, this may not protect you when you exploit your IP rights across the rest of the world.
  5. Be mindful when working with others
    Businesses often think they own the IP rights in their ideas and any works they have commissioned – whether by employees or third parties.
    If the individuals or businesses engaged to create these works are not part of your business, for example they are a subcontractor or consultant, and you don’t have a contract in place which assigns the IP rights, you are unlikely to own those IP rights. Failing to put in place contracts which assign the IP rights means those assets may not belong to you or your business – despite the fact those IP rights may be particularly valuable! Always remember to have a written contract in place with both employees and third parties which includes an assignment of all IP created by them.

If you’re interested in finding out more about intellectual property, what it means for you and how you can protect it, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our dedicated Intellectual Property team.