If you want to grow and scale your business, you’ll want to know the basics of intellectual property (IP).
Building a bullet-proof brand, strong, sustainable brand all comes down to protecting your all important IP.
Growing a business without robust IP protection is incredibly risky, and to be honest, it just isn’t worth it. The fear that someone is going to copy your brand, the lack of peace of mind, the uncertainty…that’s not what you need as a business owner.
Before we head into the different types of IP, let’s quickly define what this actually is. IP is a form of ‘intangible’ property, it refers to ‘creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce’. Like a house or a piece of land, you can own IP. Some examples include books, business names, songs, slogans and logos.
Here at Jamieson Law, we focus on three types of IP that we call ‘the triplets of IP’. So what’s the difference between each?
1) Copyright protection = protecting the work you create, i.e. something you write, videos, software coding etc.
- In the UK, copyright protection exists as soon as you create a piece of copyrightable work
- It’s different in the US, where there is a register
- So the minute you create, for example, marketing material, guides, handbooks, videos, songs, infographics, PowerPoints, you own the copyright to those (unless otherwise stated)
- There is a catch to properly protecting your copyright – it’s your responsibility to ‘tell the world’ that you own. This mostly comes down to your contracts and disclaimers. Make sure all of your contracts, your website and any other legal documents contain clauses that fully protect your copyright and explicitly state that you are the owner
- You don’t want to accidentally transfer ownership/let others use it when your copyrighted content when don’t want them to
- You can also consider using a Non-Disclosure Agreement to protect your copyrighted material in certain circumstances
2) Trademark protection = to protect your branding, i.e. your business/brand name, product name, slogan or logo
- Here you register to protect your branding in certain places, like the UK, US or EU
- Unlike copyright, you need to register your trademark to be awarded protection, it doesn’t exist straight away
- The trademarking process (wherever you register) will take a few months, so start we recommend starting as soon as possible
- You’ll want to do this before growing and scaling your business. If you don’t, you’re wide open to risk – things like accidentally infringing (copying) someone else’s trademark, or someone ‘stealing’ your brand
- The benefits of trademarking are endless, but here are a few – ownership of your marks, protection from copycats, recourse if someone copies you, reputation building, brand recognition, saves you money in the long run, shows that you really care about your brand
- Trademarking is an incredibly powerful tool to utilise to build a thriving, flourishing business
3) Patent protection = there to essentially protect your ‘inventions’
- Patent protection is much rarer to come by than copyright and trademark protection
- Many get confused between trademarking and patents
- You need to meet a very specific criteria to be granted a patent
- It can be VERY expensive and difficult to obtain patent protection. It’s a very lengthy process and you need a specialist lawyer to deal with them. This is a BIG commitment, if your product isn’t essentially a ‘new invention’, we wouldn’t recommend attempting to receive a patent
- This isn’t something we specialise in here at Jamieson Law, but we have some fantastic patent friends, so do get in touch if you’re looking for some help
Here at Jamieson Law, we’re your brand protection experts. We’re big on helping you protect your brand via trademarking and copyright protection, because you put your heart and soul into building that amazing brand of yours! If you’d like to chat about bulletproofing your brand, get in touch.