I want to protect my product or creation

Have you designed a new product or want to start a new business with your invention? Getting legal advice before you make it public is a good idea. 

Many inventions, both physical and creations, can be legally protected. Things like books, product designs, and even brand names can be protected. 

What is intellectual property?

The law says that if you create certain things you have special rights to them. These rights are called 'intellectual property.' It means that others can't copy or use what you created without getting your permission first.

So, if you write a pop song, your original lyrics can benefit from this type of protection. Or if 

you design a new bike; you can tell someone to stop copying your design if they don't ask for permission.

What types of protection are available?

There are many ways to protect your intellectual property:

Trade Marks – Often used to protect brand names and logos. These are the symbols businesses use to show their products are different from others. This helps the public to recognise them. You can apply for a trademark from the Intellectual Property Office so no one else can use your design. Examples of these include McDonald’s golden arches or Nike’s tick.

Copyright – This protects things you create like stories, paintings, and music. It stops other people from using your work without your permission. Copyright protects your work but only if it is your own original creation. You can't copy someone else's work and say it's yours. Examples of copyright include books, videos, and computer software. To find out more about the copyright for photographs visit our page control of your images online.

Patents – Are normally used to protect inventions. If you create something new like a machine or a chemical, you can apply for a patent from the Intellectual Property Office. It will stop other people from making that invention for 20 years. Examples of patents include lock mechanisms and certain ways of making things.

Design Rights – Used to protect how a product looks. Design Rights apply to functional products that don’t have any cool or creative designs. You can apply to the Intellectual Property Office with detailed drawings of your product. Once protected, it will stop others from copying the appearance of your product for 10 to 15 years. Examples of design rights include boilers and cooling systems.

How do I get protection? Who do I talk to?

If you don’t know what type of protection you need, speak to a solicitor or a legal advisor who specialises in intellectual property law. They will be able to look at your ideas and give you advice. 

It is important to check that no one else has had the same idea and already protected it.  An advisor can help you search for earlier rights and let you know how to avoid any legal issues. 

There are patent and trade mark attorneys who can also help you. They can let you know what legal protection is available and help you to get it. 

As a first step, you can visit IPReg. This is the independent group which regulates these specialist advisors. This has a handy guide to protecting your rights and will help you to get started.

If you decide to speak to a specialist, you can find out more about how to find one and how IPReg regulates their activities.