Intellectual Property (IP) UK Law

Every business will own some sort of intellectual property. It could be anything from the product, service, designs, creative branding or know-how. Surprisingly, many businesses fail to protect their assets in the early stages. Before they know it, their intellectual property has been stolen and their reputation damaged.

Ownership of IP rights is a neglected aspect of running a business. But when it comes to selling your business or seeking investment, owning intellectual property will help you bring in the revenue.

Below are the main things you need to know:

What Are Trademarks?

Definition: A trademark is a symbol or words registered to an owner representing a company or product for a specific use. It is a way of protecting your brand, product name or logo from others looking to make a quick buck by copying it. The types of things your brand can be trademarked for are called ‘use classes’. Once registered, your trademark will last for 10 years, if registered in the UK.

Below are the costs of registering a trademark:

Form NumberTitleOnline Costs of Filing A UK Trademark Offline Costs of Filing A UK Trademark
TM3Trademark Application£170£200
TM11Trademark Renewal£200£200
TM11(One Class)£50£50
TM7ATrademark RenewalNo FeeNo Fee

EU Government Fees when Registering for a Trademark:

€850 for one class online, €1000 if you want to submit a paper copy.
€50 for the second class of goods and services.
€150 for each class above that.

Estimated Legal Cost for Registering a Trademark:

£200 – £300 for a basic registration in one territory e.g. EU or UK, £1500- £1800 for UK clearance and analysis (checking availability and likelihood of successful registration in addition to processing the application).

What is a Registered Design Right?

Definition: It is possible to register the look of a product you’ve designed to stop people from copying or stealing it. The ‘look’ of a design includes the appearance, physical shape, how different parts of a design are arranged together, and the decoration. To register it, the design must be new, not be perceived as offensive and be your own design. Some emblems and flags can’t be used in your design.

Registering your design protects any aspect of the design for 25 years – so you can stop someone from copying or using the design during this time.

Government Cost:

£40 – £60 for UK Intellectual Property Office fees: £60 for the first design, £40 for any additional designs.

Estimated Legal Cost for Registering a Design Right:

£200 – £600

What Is Copyright?

Definition: Copyright means that you own things you have created, like written work (novels to scripts, music and sound recordings, reports and artistic works such as drawings). Normally, the person who created the work owns the copyright. However, if you’re working at the time you create it, your employer may own the copyright. Freelancers and contractors usually own any work they create, unless they have assigned it to a company or another individual through an IP assignment agreement.

The duration of copyright varies according to the type of work, but it is usually 50-70 years from the death of the creator.

Costs of Protecting Your Copyright:

£0 (Copyright is an automatic right, so you do not need to register anything you have created).

Legal Fees: £150

IP Assignment

What Are Patents?

Definition: Patents are a way of protecting an invention and gives you the right to prevent anyone from making, using or selling your patented product or idea without your permission. To apply for a patent, your invention must be:

  • New
  • Something that can be made or used
  • Inventive (so it can’t be a modified version of something that already exists)

You can’t patent:

  • Musical, artistic literary or dramatic works
  • A way of doing business, a game or thinking
  • Some computer programmes
  • Medical treatments or diagnosis techniques
  • The way information is presented
  • Biological processes

Costs: c £4000 + legal fees

Obtaining a patent is expensive. It can be difficult to meet the requirements needed to successfully have your patent granted. You don’t want to throw money away. It usually takes about 5 years for a patent to be granted and only about 1 in 20 applications are successful. You will also need the advice and services of a specialist patent attorney to help you make an application.

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