What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property is a commercial and legal term used to describe a number of different categories of creative products of individual creators who enjoy exclusive legal rights in respect of their creations. Intellectual property laws provide owners with protection and certain exclusive rights. The protected works include both tangible and intangible works including literary, musical, and artistic works, patents and inventions; creative and original words, phrases, symbols, and designs. The most common types of assets protected by intellectual property can be divided into two distinct categories namely, industrial intellectual property that includes patents, trademarks, industrial creations. The second category includes creative creations such as literary, artistic and musical works such as novels, paintings, songs and drawings.
How to ensure that intellectual property is protected?
Any original creation is protected by intellectual property law as soon as it is created and the owner can prove his or her work’s originality. There is no requirement for official registration with the UK Intellectual Property Office. Although the copyright protection is afforded automatically, there are certain steps that can be taken to avoid complications and disputes. A good method of making sure that a proper record of your work is documented is to deposit a copy of your work with a solicitor or a bank. Alternatively, you could also send yourself a copy of the work by Royal Mail Special Recorded Delivery, keep original receipt with the date and leave the envelope unopened upon its arrival.
It is important to remember that the above will merely prove that the work in question was in your possession at a given time in the past. None of the above methods will guarantee that your work is original. Somebody might have developed the same concept before you even had known about it.
Commercially, one good method of ensuring that your intellectual property is not violated is to apply for official trademark or patent and notify others of your rights. Many businesses use the international copyright symbol © to ensure that the public and other businesses are fully aware of the copyright protection in place.
How to effectively profit from intellectual property rights?
There are a number of ways through which you can profit from your intellectual property. In the case of patents, trademarks and copyrights it is common to generate profits through licensing and franchising arrangements. Some of the world’s most recognised brands operate as franchises including Subway and McDonald’s. In the franchising arrangement you pay franchising fee for the use and support of the brand owner. There are major advantages such as advertising sponsored by the franchise owner. Copyrights, trademarks and patents are very often licensed on both exclusive and non-exclusive basis. A good example of this would be one company paying the other a licensing fee for the use of their logo. Dependent on whether the arrangement is exclusive (i.e. the trademark is granted on an exclusive basis meaning that the trademark owner is not allowed to grant the same or similar rights in respect of it to any other party than the licensee) or non-exclusive, the trademark or copyright owner will receive respectively either higher or lower licensing fee.
Patents are probably one of the most profitable rights as for a limited period of time (usually 20 years) they give the inventor exclusive rights for the use of the invention. The patent owner enjoys a monopoly and can either distribute and profit from the product him or herself or grant a non-exclusive or exclusive licence to third party in exchange for a fee. After the protected period of time passes the patent owner will need to make the patent publicly available.