Protecting your Ideas
Applied Product Design would like all its customers to have confidence in keeping their ideas (Intellectual Property) protected from being copied. We can assist you in doing this if you do not already have any forms of protection as listed below, however in order to do so you would have to first tell us about your idea. You may then wonder what would prevent Applied Product Design or its staff from stealing your idea! This is where our Confidentiality Agreement comes in. Once you have contacted us we can forward you a copy of our Confidentiality Agreement, which once signed by both parties, provides you with legal protection that would prevent us from telling anyone else about your idea, or using it in any way (Not that we would anyway, as we treat all clients information as confidential). With this Confidentiality Agreement (sometimes called an NDA – Non Disclosure Agreement) in place we can then assist with the best way of protecting your ideas from others.
To give you some ideas on the options we have listed them below, along with what they are intended for and the protection that they offer:-
Intellectual Property Rights
Intellectual property is a broad term which can encompass a wide range of expressions and creative ideas that may have artistic or commercial merit or value. While intellectual property rights may not manifest themselves in physical objects, they can nevertheless be purchased, sold or licensed out to companies or other organisations for financial gain.
Intellectual property rights are afforded protection by such legal mechanisms as Registered Design Rights, Trademarks, Copyright protection and Patents. Such officially recognised protective tools help deter unauthorised use of intellectual property - or provide proof of it, should it be required.
If Intellectual Property is to be protected it usually has to be done in each country that protection is required, however some countries may allow the extension of any UK protection, however this should be checked before proceeding.
Protecting your Intellectual Property can be very important, as it can be a vital asset that gives you a competitive edge over your competitors.
A Patent can be used to protect a new invention, how it works, how it is made and what it is made from. If what you would like to protect comes into one of these categories, then a Patent would give you the right to stop anyone else from making, importing, selling, or even using your invention without your permission. Once a Patent has been applied for then the term Patent Pending can be used, but this does not mean it has been granted, however it does give the owner of the idea protection to discuss the idea openly without anyone else being able to use it. A Patent will only be granted if it does not infringe with any other granted IP or was not already known in the public domain. Using the phrase Patent Pending without a Patent application having been made can result in fine.
Once a Patent has been granted it gives the owner protection for up to 20 years in the country that it was granted, as long as the annual renewal payments are made. Another person could however use your invention in another country if you do not have a Patent registered there, however they will not be able to register their own Patent in that country, as the invention was in the public domain by virtue of the existing Patent.
Design Registration is used to protect the physical appearance / look of a product, including any shapes, lines, contours, pattern, texture, material or decoration. As such it does not cover how the product works like a Patent. In order for a design to be registered it must have individuality, such that it would not remind an informed person of an existing design.
A design can be registered up to one year after it has first been shown, during which period it is covered automatically by a Design Right. The Design Right however only gives protection from anyone copying your design for up to 15 years.
Registered designs in the UK give initial protection for up to 5 years. They can then be renewed every 5 years for up to 25 years.
A Trade Mark protects a symbol or sign, which may include words, pictures, logos or any combination of them. These symbols are often used for marketing to distinguish a product or service and make it recognisable to customers. A registered mark is only applicable in the class that it has been registered in.
If a Trade Mark has either not been applied for or granted then the TM symbol can be applied. Once a Trade Mark has been registered then the ® symbol can be used.
A Trade Mark in the UK can last forever subject to a renewal being paid every 10 years.
Copyright is used as protection for the author of original creative or artistic work. The creative work that Copyright can be applied to includes literature, drama, music, art, layouts, broadcasts and recordings. Once the Copyright symbol © has been added, followed by the name of the creator and the date created has been applied to the work then the copyrighted work cannot be copied without the owners permission. Copyright is an automatic right, and as such does not need to be applied for, and therefore does not cost anything.
Copyright for music, literacy, artistic and dramatic work lasts for the author’s lifetime plus 70 years.
Copyright for TV and Radio broadcasts lasts for 50 years from the first broadcast.
Copyright for typographical layout lasts for 25 years from creation.