Copyright and Intellectual Property

Services

It’s all about copyright & (and IP). I know how much hard work and effort you put into creating amazing marketing material, designs (the lot) for your business, and I want you to protect this.

Have you ever been terrified that someone is going to steal your copyrighted works? Maybe you’ve had it happen before and would like to avoid it going forward? Either way, copyright theft does happen, so being aware of how to protect your copyrighted material is SO important!

Understanding what copyright and IP is can make a huge difference towards leveraging the legals for your business.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION ABOUT

Copyright

Intellectual property, often shortened to ‘IP’, is ‘something you create using your mind’, such as a book, a logo, a symbol, a poster, or a song. With intellectual property comes intellectual property rights to stop people stealing or copying it (like the name of your products / brands, your inventions, anything you write).

You own IP if you created it, bought IP rights from another or have a trademark (for example, for your business name or logo).

There are 3 main types of IP that can be protected, often known as ‘the triplets of IP’:

  1. Copyrights 
  2. Trademarks
  3. Patents

Copyright protection means protecting the work you create, whether it be something you write, a video, software coding, marketing material, a poster, a leaflet etc. In the UK, copyright exists as soon as you create a piece of copyrightable work. There is no register (unlike with trademarks, which covers protecting your business name, logo etc).

Although copyright protection exists straight away, it is your responsibility to tell the world you own that IP, to make sure you’re fully protected.

This comes down to putting disclaimers on your website and in your contracts (and anywhere else necessary, like marketing material). It essentially lets others know what they can and can’t do with your copyrighted material.

You might even want to have NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) in place for certain pieces of work.

We can help put in place the necessary copyright disclaimers to use going forward, to ensure your copyright is fully protected.

Copyright infringement is a fancy way of saying someone else, other than the copyright owner, has used that copyrighted material without their permission. 

An example of copyright infringement could be you using a random copyrighted picture from Google on your Instagram feed, so be careful what you’re posting!

If you are found guilty of copyright infringement in a magistrates’ court, your business could be fined up to £50,000 OR you could actually face a jail term of up to 6 months.

If the case escalates further, fines can be unlimited, and the maximum jail sentence is up to 10 years.

If someone has infringed your copyright, there are a few things you can do:

  • Contact them directly to let them know that you own the copyright and that if they don’t stop using your material you will escalate things further
  • Consider mediation (an alternative to going to court)
  • If this doesn’t work, going to court *may* be the right solution. We’d recommend seeking legal advice from an IP disputes solicitor at an early stage to discuss your options 

 

Patent protection is in place to protect your invention. To be honest, they’re pretty rare to come by. To be granted a patent, your invention must tick all of these boxes:

  • Something that can be made or used
  • Something “new”
  • Something inventive – not a modification of something that already exists 

They’re pretty expensive and hard to obtain, and the process is super lengthy. You need a specialist patent lawyer to deal with patent registration. 

People often get trademarks and patents confused. Trademarking protects the likes of your business name, product name, signature framework name, logo etc.

That depends on the type of IP!

If you don’t protect your copyright properly there are several things that could happen, including your copyrightable works being used for gain by other businesses, your copyrightable material could be adapted without your permission etc.

Without the right disclaimers (i.e., if they don’t contain the correct wording) you could also accidentally sign over the ownership of your material or allow permission of use to those you don’t want using your content.

There are a few things you need to consider with IP and your website:

  • Disclaimers: does your website have the right disclaimers, telling users you own the copyrighted content on it? Are you allowing others to use your content? If so, say this in your disclaimers.
  • Content: when creating your website, you need to consider whether you have permission to use certain materials you want to include, like images, data, software etc. If you aren’t the owner, you may need a licence from the copyright owner. For images, I’d always recommend using stock photographs.
  • Who owns the website? Is a third party creating your website, like an employee or digital marketing agency? If so, THEY own that site. You’ll need an agreement in place to transfer ownership of your website to you or agree in advance that anything created by the third party for you will be owned by you.

Most copyrighted works will still be protected in the EU after Brexit because the UK is part of international treaties. 

Trademarks are a little more complex. Previously, if you registered for an EU trademark, you’d get protection across all of the EU (including the UK); this has now changed. Going forward, you will now need to file separate applications in both the UK and the EU to get protection in both places.

UK office: G2, 2 Milverton Grange, Glasgow G46 7AU
Ireland office: Cushenstown, Garristown, Meath A42 FY83

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