Intellectual Property comprises the tangible products of the mind be that a design, song, manuscript, brand, logo, or invention, to name but a few.
It is the physical representation of the intelligent processes of the mind. So a general idea which is incapable of being characterised is not IP, but as soon as a novel idea is put into a solid format (and meets the necessary criteria) it can be protected and exploited.
Generally, the main sorts of Intellectual Property are
patents but there are also less defined categories which also need to be understood, protected and used, such as confidential information, trade secrets, trade names and styles, image rights and know how, to name but a few.
We can help by:
- Protecting your fledgling assets by advising on confidentiality and preparing non-disclosure agreements to ensure that those who you approach with your creations do not steal or damage your rights to them or, if they do, they will face certain consequences.
- Protecting your IP in relation to employees and ex-employees.
- Drawing up the necessary documents for exploiting your intellectual property rights, such as by licensing or selling (assigning) them.
- Drafting the contracts needed for you to purchase or licence the intellectual property belonging to other individuals or entities.
- Advising and assisting you to enter into research and development agreements.
- Advising you if you think someone is infringing your intellectual property rights or, indeed, if you are accused of infringing another’s right or rights and seek remedies in those situations.
- Carrying out an audit of your intellectual property to establish: what intellectual property you own; what intellectual property is protected or what needs protecting; what intellectual property you are using and, if applicable, on what terms; what intellectual property you could be using; what agreements you need to put in place; and so on.
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Our Intellectual property services
Licenses are the main method by which businesses and individuals obtain the right to use applications.
Non-bespoke software is usually licensed on the supplier’s standard term and conditions. However, where the software is customised, a negotiable license agreement is more appropriate.
Advantages for licensor:
- Can restrict the use of the software
- Can prohibit copying, modifying, adapting or decompiling
- Retain the intellectual property
- Can restrict the sub-licensing and assignment of the software
- Creates right to sue for compensation and for an injunction to prevent further breaches, if it become necessary
- Single price or license fees
Advantages for licensee:
- Extent of use is ascertainable
- Can allow for future proofing
- Can deal with future updates
- Clear costing
- Can deal with maintenance
The sale of software needs to include all the intellectual property rights in the software. Where software is commissioned, it is advisable to enter into an assignment to ensure that all rights are owned by the commissioner and not the entity who created the software.
Software assignments are also used as part of larger corporate transactions, such as asset purchases. Assignments can deal with existing and future intellectual property rights.
Patents are used to protect new inventions: products and processes e.g. working mechanisms, materials, manufacturing process, etc.
To be patentable an invention must be new, have an inventive step, have industrial application and not be excluded or exempt from patent protection for any reason. The rights granted are a monopoly on the invention and allow the owner to take legal action to prevent copying, using, making, importing or selling without permission. We can help you to identify and protect your new inventions, advise on making a patent application (by recommending a suitable Patent Agent) and, once the application has been filed and/or granted, we can help you exploit and protect your invention by drafting all the necessary legal contracts and agreements, some examples of which are: licenses, manufacturing agreements, assignments (sales contracts), research and development agreements. Read more
Designs can be registered or unregistered in both the UK or in the wider European Community.
Registered and unregistered Community design rights are similar to UK registered design rights, whereas UK unregistered design (often referred to as simply “design right”) is somewhat different. At first sight the definitions are quite similar. But the basic distinction is that the first apply to the design itself whereas UK unregistered design right applies specifically to the design of an article. Read more
Copyright is an intellectual property right which arises without actually having to go through any formalities. Protection automatically applies to all works in any form provided they meet certain requirements.
There are many types of copyrighted works but they broadly fall into the following categories: original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works which, with the exception of artistic works, are recorded in some way; sound recordings, films or broadcasts; and typographical arrangements of published editions. Each of these categories can be further broken down. For example literary works include: a novel, a newspaper, magazine, anthology of poetry, a table, a computer program, a database, lyrics, design specifications, reports, marketing plans, letters.
Trade marks can be found just about everywhere: they can be company names, trading names, product names, names of services, striking logos, strap lines, slogans.
They also have many forms so they can be made up one or a mixture of text, numerals, shapes, colours, smells, sounds, taste, texture, even a graphical representation of someone’s goal celebration. Trade marks are generally used to identify the goods and services of an entity and distinguish them from those of others. The principle is that there is a connection between a trader and the goods or services in question. Read more
The requirement for much intellectual property rights is that of novelty.
To be protected, the concept must have that element of newness about it. However, there are occasions when the idea has to be explored, be that to gain funding, to produce prototypes, to establish if the concept works, for joint collaboration or R&D, or to seek specialist experience, etc., and some of these steps may mean disclosing the ideas to another entity.
In order to safeguard the concept, it is advisable to enter into a confidentiality agreement agreements (also known as non-disclosure agreements or NDAs), with those to whom the concept is to be disclosed. Without one, the invention or inventive concept could be stolen, or disclosed, or used, at the expense of your business.
- Confidentiality agreements (or non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs) are contracts relating to mutual or one-way disclosure of information between two or more parties, which usually outlines how such information can be used or stored, and if and when such information may be disclosed to third parties
- Advantages for discloser
- Low cost protection of your sensitive and confidential information, including know-how and other intellectual property rights
- Keeps secret potentially registrable intellectual property
- Can prevent competitors from financially gaining from your business, at the expense of your business
- Creates right to sue for compensation and for an injunction to prevent further breaches, if it become necessary advantages for receiver
- Provides means to receive information to understand and assess a target business and/or product
- Can assist you to make an informed decision as to the disclosers proposals
If a party breaches a confidentiality agreement action can be taken to remedy that breach. Action might include damages, delivery up of the confidential information, disposal and/or destruction, search and seize orders. Without a confidentiality agreement, such remedies would be difficult, if not impossible, to attain.
An intellectual property audit allows a business to gain a clear picture if their intellectual property assets.
The report is an in depth review of all the current intellectual property in use and owned by an individual or company. Will identify whether or not the intellectual property is protected or should be protected, what intellectual property is being used, if there are problems with that usage, if others could be infringing the intellectual property, whether or not any agreements need to be drafted to rectify any issues e.g. ownership of intellectual property or licences to use other’s intellectual property, etc. The exercise results in a summary of all the intellectual property and a full report of what needs to be done, might need to be done, and advice for the future.
Employment contacts often contain clauses restricting the use of confidential information both during and after employment. Such clauses are wize to also include the use of a company’s intellectual property, during and after employment. This should protect the company if, for example, an employee supplies confidential customer lists to a competitor, or removes copyright material to use in their subsequent employment or business. All sensitive material should be covered by appropriate caluses in an employee’s contract. Similarly in partnership agreements, shareholders agreements, etc.
Letter before action
- These are used before court action is taken. The purpose is to inform a third party of intellectual property rights, how they are being infringed and a request to desist. They can request that certain action be taken by a certain date, request undertakings to be given, request compensation, etc.
Response to letter before action
- These are used when an entity is threatened with court action. They can refute a claim, agree to certain action being taken, disagree with the claim, threaten action in return, etc.