Copyright and Intellectual Property
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Your intellectual property or IP describes the things you create that originate from your own ideas and the physical representation of that idea. Your IP can cover things like a book you’ve written, a logo, a poster, a song or a blog for your website.
Your intellectual property comes with intellectual property rights. These rights stop people stealing or copying your ideas or your work.
You own IP if you created it, bought IP rights from another or have registered a trademark (for example, for your business name or logo).
There are 3 main types of intellectual property that can be protected. They are often known as the triplets of IP:
Copyright protection is the protection you automatically receive as soon as you create a piece of original work, such as a book or a piece of music. Even though copyright is granted automatically, there is no copyright register in the UK or Ireland. It is your responsibility to let people know that you own the copyright to your ideas.
We can help you put the necessary copyright disclaimers in place. Disclaimers are essential because although copyright protection exists straight away, you still need to tell people that you own the copyright.
You can do this by adding disclaimers to your company assets, such as your website, contracts, and marketing materials. The disclaimers let others know what they can, and can’t, do with your copyrighted material.
If you want to protect your ideas before they reach the market, we can help you with Non-Disclosure Agreements.
Copyright infringement happens when someone uses copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright owner.
A common example is using a copyrighted picture from Google on an Instagram feed.
If you are found guilty in court, your business could be fined, or you could face a jail term.
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, which is 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 protects your invention. To be granted a patent, your invention must meet these criteria:
- Something that can be made or used.
- Something new.
- Something inventive, not a modification of something that already exists.
Patent protection is expensive, hard to obtain and a lengthy process. You need a specialist patent lawyer to deal with patent registration.
People often get trademarks and patents confused. A trademark protects the product name, a patent protects the invention. Here at Jamieson Law, we do not deal with patents.
If you don’t protect your intellectual property, there are several things that could happen. Your copyrightable works could be used for gain by other businesses. Or they could be adapted for another purpose, without your permission.
Without the right disclaimers in place, you could accidentally allow permission of use to those you don’t want using your content.
If you don’t trademark your logo, your competitor could create the same logo and register it. This would make it very hard for you to continue using the brand identity you created.
There are a few things you need to consider around intellectual property 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, and software. If you aren’t the owner, you may need a licence from the copyright owner. For images, we’d always recommend using royalty-free stock photographs.
- Who owns the website? Is a third party creating your website, like a digital marketing agency? If so, they own that site. You’ll need an agreement in place to transfer ownership of your website to you.
Most copyrighted works will be protected in the EU after Brexit because the UK is still part of international treaties.
Trademarks are a little more complex. In the past, an EU trademark would protect you across the EU, which included the UK. This has changed. To get protection in both places you now need to file separate applications in both the UK and the EU.