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Protecting Your Ideas

Intellectual property, also known as IP, is a legal term shaped from the formal development of an idea or concept, ordinarily within the corporate world.

IP may be an invention, design or brand, or in a non commercial sense a song or work of art. IP can be traded and possessed similar to a physical product.

Types of IP

IP comes in many forms, with the aims of protecting the concepts, ideas and design entities of a business.

The nature of necessary IP protection depends upon the created idea, with differing requirements for alternate forms of product.

Intellectual Property (IP) is mostly known in terms of patenting; however there are four key categories of IP rights frequently used in the protection of inventions or creations:

  • copyright
  • trade marks
  • design
  • patent

There are however additional measures, such as forms of contractual confidentiality agreements.


In the instance that a physical entity, design, product, concept or idea is formed by a subcontracter, ordinarily and by rights the subcontractor (unless agreed otherwise) is entitled to copyright the work on their own behalf.

A copyrighted product is traditionally marked with the copyright symbol © with the name of the owner, date added, along with additional information. Copyrighting is most often used today in websites and brochures.

Trade marks

Trade marks are commonly commercial identity phrases designs and symbols, i.e. logos and brand names. Trade marks are used to establish goods and services in the commercial market.


Registering a design is a legal entitlement protecting the general aesthetic approach of a product within its commercial area of registry. The key characteristics that shape the design will be made up of considered areas including:

  • colours
  • materials
  • lines
  • contours
  • shape
  • concept
  • texture
  • appearance

It is also possible to register a design encasing the ornamentation alone i.e. pattern or a stylised symbol.

A design must be new and have individual character to be officially registered.


Patenting a concept protects the character and processes that forms a working idea. This form of IP enables inventors to obtain profit through produced inventions.

A free patents database can be accessed through the Intellectual Office of Property website, in addition to a search tool providing access to an online database displaying existing patented ideas.

Once acquiring a patent it can be licensed to an interested company or business for profit.

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