How can I protect my IP?
Published 01.11.08 at 09:30
There are various ways to protect your IP, but you should first identify what IP it is that you own by identifying all your creative 'assets'. Everything from your logo and domain name, to your packaging design, products, photographs and software all count as IP.
Once you have identified the IP that you own, your next step should be to look at how to safeguard it from copying or infringement. There are various ways you can protect your IP:
- Register your design, patent and trade mark rights.
- Secure domain names to safeguard your brand on the Internet.
- Put confidentiality agreements in place with clients, potential manufacturers or investors before you start negotiations. A well-drafted agreement will specify the type of information that is protected, how long the duty of confidentiality is to last and to whom the information may be disclosed.
- Agree terms and get everything in writing. When approaching manufacturers you should strive to get various agreements in place, such as a confidentiality agreement, prototype agreement (whereby the factory agrees to make a sample to your specifications), heads of agreement and manufacturing agreement. For sample contracts, click here.
- Catalogue everything that you have. Keep good records, including your sketches, notes, drafts, diagrams, contracts, letters and email communications. Strive to keep all work in progress and a 'design' or working story.
- Assert your rights. Mark the author/publisher or creators name on all copies of your work, along with the date and country. © (Name of owner) (Year of creation).
- Put registered design rights and other IP renewal dates in your diary. Never forget IP rights or domain name renewals.
Photo credit: Articotropical
Please note that this article discusses the legal position in the UK at the time of publication. It provides general information only but is not to be regarded as legal advice. You must take advice from a specialist lawyer in relation to your specific circumstances. Further, you should seek additional legal advice when dealing with parties based in other parts of the world or works originating from other parts of the world as the legal position may vary.