As a business, you’ve probably heard the term ‘intellectual property’ (or IP for short) but you might be unsure of what it means.
Your business is likely to own or use intellectual property (IP). Typically, this may include your business name, logo, website, technical innovation, software, images and the look of your product to name a few.
These important assets, which often go unrecognised, could play an important role in the sustainability and growth of your business both domestically and internationally.
You know copyright exists but how does it apply to your business and your website? Are you unsure of the difference between registering your company with Companies House and registering your trade mark with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO)?
To help you answer any questions you have, the IPO has a suite of ‘IP for Business’ tools that can help you understand the basics of IP and how best to protect it. Best of all, they’re completely free to use and are accessible via desktops, tablets and smart phones.
Why is intellectual property important?
It is almost certain that every business, large or small, will own or use intellectual property (IP) even without realising it.
In a recent survey, 86% of UK small businesses said it’s important to know how to protect their intellectual property, but what exactly is IP?
IP covers any original creation, not just inventions, and can include your business name, logo, images, promotional material and even your website.
Below is a video regarding the importance of protecting your intellectual property.
There are four main types of IP:
- Designs – protects the overall look of a product including the colour, shape and texture
- Patents – protects new inventions; how they work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made
- Trade marks – protects brands, such as your business name or logo, and can consist of a word, phrase, picture or a combination of all these
- Copyright – protects written, dramatic, musical and artistic works including photos, recordings, software and databases
Intellectual property assets can be integral to the growth and sustainability of a business. When properly managed, the value of your IP can far outweigh the physical assets, accounting for over 70% of your business’ value.
To learn more about the different areas of IP and how they apply to business, watch the IPO's short IP Basics video.
This should give you an idea of how important your IP rights are to the growth and sustainability of your business. It’s important to identify and protect these rights early, so check out our IP for Business pages to help you make a start.
It’s important to identify and protect your IP early on, but if you’re new to the subject, where do you start?
- The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) - is the government body responsible for granting IP rights. Their business pages are also packed with guidance, case studies, details of upcoming events and information on where to access further support. You can also sign up to our IP for Business e-alerts to keep up to date with the latest news and updates from the IPO.
- IP for Business - is a range of online tools designed to help you understand, identify, protect and exploit your IP assets to their fullest potential. Whether you’re a complete novice or looking to brush up on existing skills, the right tools are available here.
- IP Equip – is a free, interactive online learning tool to help you identify assets which may be protected by IP rights. Made up of four modules on the main IP rights, it takes around an hour to complete and is also CPD accredited.
- IP Health Check – is a free online assessment of your business to help you identify and add value to your IP assets. Based on your answers to a series of simple questions, it provides a confidential report with advice on how to protect your IP.
- IP Master Class - is a specialist course for business professionals. It will help you develop an in-depth understanding of IP and practical skills you can use in a business environment. Can be completed in a classroom (face-to-face) setting or online.
- IP Equip app - is perfect for accessing simple IP information on the go, the app gives you an overview of IP rights and how to make the most of them. Free to download on Apple iOS and Android devices.
- IP Events calendar - Training events to help you register and look after your intellectual property.
Watch the video below from Business Support Helpline regarding how to trade mark and copyright.
Other useful links:
Growth hub providers – help with intellectual property