Intellectual Property

Intellectual property covers a wide range of business assets, from copyright to trade marks, and patents to design rights. If you have a business, you are likely to own intellectual property and make use of other people's intellectual property within your business activities.

Intellectual property lets people own the work they create. It can be any of the following:

  • brands and logos
  • inventions
  • software
  • designs
  • music
  • books
  • poems
  • paintings
  • photography
  • other kinds of creative work

Intellectual property can be very valuable, and there are businesses, such as computer games companies, that exist simply to develop intellectual property or even take advantage of it. It is important to protect your business by securing your intellectual property rights. It is equally important to avoid infringing the rights of other businesses.

The way you can protect your intellectual property depends on what exactly it is:

Copyright is granted to the person or organisation that creates published artistic work, which includes writing, film music and computer software. Unlike most other forms of intellectual property, copyright is granted automatically when the work is first published.

Patents protect inventions, including the features and processes that make things work.

Trade marks are symbols that differentiate between goods and services and can be logos or brand names.

Designs can be protected by registering them, and through design right.

Digital intellectual property can be protected in other ways than using the law, such as encryption and using digital signatures.


For more information, see the following guides on this site:

The following useful video has been created by the Intellectual Property Office:

protecting intellectual property explains how to conduct an intellectual property audit and the legal protection available to you

digital intellectual property and your business gives information on the importance of digital intellectual property such as software, photography and designs to your business

intellectual property crime and your business explains how to avoid infringing intellectual property and outlines the penalties and problems if you do so

find out how to protect your ideas is an interactive tool that helps you find out what kinds of protection are available and what you'll need to do to get it