Date: 29/11/2015 | By: Hugh Mathew

If you have a brand, an idea, a new design or some other form of intellectual property, how can you protect it? Do you need to do anything to protect it, or is the protection yours automatically?

BizSmart Select Member Hugh Mathew of Advantage Management Consultants takes us through the basics of intellectual property protection…


Intellectual property can be a confusing topic, and it helps to understand the different forms of intellectual property (IP) protection. What is covered, where do the rules apply and when should they be used? It’s quite possible that IP protection is not necessarily as useful as you would hope.


Automatic IP


Some forms of IP are automatic, for example if you draw a sketch or design a unique item. Some types of IP must be applied for and they will not always be granted. There is also a cost involved.


There is no intellectual property protection for ideas


You can only get IP protection on things you create, not on ideas. For example, an idea for a film is not protected, but a completed movie script is. The key is in knowing whether it is possible to protect your IP and then deciding whether it is worthwhile to protect it.




Patents protect the way things work – the item you want to protect must be new and inventive. A patent will last for twenty years and there will be annual renewal fees.


Design right


To claim design right on something involves posting a copy to yourself by recorded delivery and leaving it seals. You might also lodge a copy with a solicitor. It’s an automatic right but it lasts for a finite amount of time. In the UK it lasts for 15 years after creation or for ten years after being sold, whichever is earliest. In the EU as a whole it only lasts for three years.




Copyright offers automatic protection as soon as the work is “fixed” e.g. written down, recorded or performed. There is no registration involved, there are no fees, and it lasts for at least 25 years.




Trademarks protect a brand and there are fees involved. Trademarks need to be renewed every ten years.


If this topic is of particular interest to you, and you’d like to find out more about whether you’d be wise to protect your IP and the best way to go about it (plus get an idea of the fees involved) then 

Don’t forget Hugh’s Top Tips : 
1. Don’t talk to anyone about your clever ideas without considering how that might affect your ability to protect them from people stealing or copying them. 
2. Use Non Disclosure Agreements – ALL THE TIME. 
3. Make sure YOU own the IP – not someone else.


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