Navigation path


Share on 
	Share on Facebook
  
	Tweet it
  
	Share on google+
  
	Share on linkedIn
  
    
      E-mail
Set page to normal font sizeIncrease font size by 200 percentBookmark this pageChoose high-contrast version
Set page to normal font sizeIncrease font size by 200 percentBookmark this pageChoose high-contrast version

United Kingdom

Intellectual property

Updated 02/2010

Legal requirements

The main UK intellectual property (IP) rules are laid down in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

IP law aims to automatically safeguard certain intellectual property rights. Applications can also be made for other types of legal protection:

Intellectual property rights

Industrial property rights

Taking out a patent gives you the right to stop people from making, using, importing or selling your invention without your permission. A granted patent can remain in force for up to 20 years.

If you want to apply for a patent, you can choose to apply either by post or electronically. Electronic filing may be particularly attractive if you apply or will in future apply for a patent on a regular basis.

If your business creates original works, copyright protection could be an important part of ensuring its success. It might be essential to enforce your rights if a rival with a similar product or service copies your instruction manual for instance. As a copyright owner, it is for you to decide whether and how to license use of your work. The UK Government's Business Link website provides full guidance on copyright rules, including lists of what is automatically covered, what is not, and how to get copyright protection.

A trademark can provide a distinctive way of representing your goods or services that sets them apart from those of other traders. Common law may give some trade mark protection automatically but you should consider registering your trade mark for added protection.

Commercial strategies

A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a legal contract between you and another partner not to disclose information you have shared for a specific purpose, allowing businesses to approach potential partners, suppliers, customers, etc. knowing that information cannot be legally passed on. This can be used to share intellectual property, commercial information, business plans, etc.

Protecting intellectual rights abroad

UK copyright law usually provides automatic protection abroad as the UK is a member of many international agreements. However, UK registration of a design, patent, or trade mark does not protect it elsewhere in the EU and abroad.

Combating counterfeiting and piracy

The unauthorised use of your IP is a criminal offence in some instances and can lead to prosecution under Section 94 of the Trade Mark Act in relation to Trade Mark infringement, and Sections 107A and 198 of the Copyright, Design, and Patent Act in relation to Copyright infringement.

It is unlawful to apply a  registered trade mark   to goods, or to make an exact copy of goods which have the benefit of a registered trade mark registration, without the permission of the trade mark owner.

Even where goods are not subject to a trade mark registration, it is sometimes still possible to bring an action against someone making copies of goods, or attaching marks to goods, without the permission of the person already trading in those goods and associated marks. This is called a ‘passing-off ' action.

Copyright may exist in certain goods, such as artistic designs on clothing, computer programs, CDs, DVDs and other electronic media. An infringement of copyright may occur where goods are copied without the permission of the copyright owner.

Property rights encourage investment in innovation and research.

Administrative procedures

Registration

Additional IP rights in the UK

Applications for additional IP rights can be made through the UK's Intellectual Property Office and through a locally registered IP attorney. The IPO's forms and fees are available on its website. You can complete the forms and send them back to the IPO online, or through a UK-based IP attorney.

Confidentiality

Before applying for IP protection, a Confidentiality Disclosure Agreement (CDA) should be considered when disclosing confidential information to a third party.

Extending UK IP rights abroad

Usually, you need to apply for your IP rights abroad. However, some countries may extend your UK protection, accepting it as protected in the country concerned, after completing certain local requirements. You can also extend the UK's IP rights abroad through national IP offices, Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) and European Patent Office (EPO). Design and trademark protection must be applied for separately through each EC country's IP office.

Extending UK IP rights in the EU

The OHIM provides harmonised protection for IP in the EU under a Registered Community Design (RCD) and Community Trade Mark (CTM). You can apply for RCDs and CTMs and their renewal on the OHIM website. You can also oppose an RCD and CTM application online.

The European Patent Convention (EPC) protects patents in more than 30 European countries. IPO permission is required for extending a UK patent on military technology or that could threaten national security or public safety. The EPO processes all applications as a single application. If several countries are designated, separate patents will result. Patent applications can be filed online.

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) provides patent protection in Europe through the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Users can file international applications on WIPO's website or on CD-R.

Obtaining certificates

Guidance on showing your IP is protected can be found on the IPO website

Resources

IPO's brochure 'Intellectual property explained', EPO's online services discussion forum and the OHIM website's Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) are a valuable source of information.

 Business Link and UK Trade & Investment's websites also offer advice on exploiting IP rights.

Help & advice

Help & advice

E-mail a business organisation near you

The EU runs a network (Enterprise Europe Network) of local business organisations in most European countries that may be able to help you.

Choose your country and town and enter your enquiry below.

Thank you, your message has been sent successfully.
Due to technical problems, your message could not been sent. Please try again later.

Country

Austria

Feldkirch

Graz

Innsbruck

Klagenfurt

Linz

Salzburg

Wien

Belgium

Antwerpen

Arlon

Brugge

Brussels

Charleroi

Gent

Hasselt

Leuven

Libramont

Liège

Mons

Namur

Nivelles

Bulgaria

Dobrich

Plovidiv

Ruse

Sandanski

Sofia

Stara Zagora

Vratsa

Yambol

Croatia

Osijek

Rijeka

Split

Varazdin

Zagreb

Cyprus

Nicosia

Czech Republic

Brno

Brno

Liberec

Ostrava

Ostrava

Pardubice

Plzen

Praha

Usti nad Labem

Denmark

Aalborg

Copenhagen

Herning

Kolding

Næstved

Viborg

Estonia

Tallinn

Finland

Helsinki

Oulu

Tampere

Turku

Vantaa

France

Amiens

Annecy

Aulnat

Besançon

Bordeaux

Bourg en Bresse

Caen

Cayenne

Chalons-en-Champagne

Chambéry

Dijon

Fort-de-France

Grenoble

Lille

Limoges

Lyon

Marseille

Marseille

Montpellier

Montpellier

Nancy

Nantes

Orléans

Paris

Pointe-à-Pitre

Poitiers

Privas

Rennes

Rouen

Saint-Denis

Saint-Etienne

Strasbourg

Toulouse

Valence

Germany

Berlin

Bremen

Bremenhaven

Chemnitz

Dresden

Düsseldorf

Erfurt

Frankfurt/Oder

Freiburg

Hamburg

Hannover

Kaiserslautern

Kiel

Konstanz

Leipzig

Magdeburg

Mannheim

Mülheim an der Ruhr

München

Potsdam

Reutlingen

Rostock

Saabrücken

Stuttgart

Trier

Ulm

Villingen-Schwenningen

Wiesbaden

Greece

Athens

Heraklion

Ioannina

Kavala

Kozani

Thessaloniki

Tripolis

Volos

Hungary

Budapest

Debrecen

Eger

Győr

Miskolc

Nyíregyháza

Pécs

Szeged

Székesfehérvár

Zalaegerszeg

Ireland

Dublin

Italy

Abruzzo

Aosta

Apulia

Ascoli Piceno

Basilicata

Bologna

Bologna

Cagliari

Calabria

Calabria

Campania

Catania

Florence

Genova

Gorizia

Milano

Molise

Naples

Palermo

Palermo

Perugia

Pesaro

Pisa

Pordenone

Ravenna

Rome

Rovereto

Sassari

Sicily

Terni

Torino

Trieste

Udine

Venezia

Venezia

Venezia

Latvia

Riga

Lithuania

Kaunas

Klaipėda

Vilnius

Luxembourg

Luxembourg

Malta

Pieta`

Netherlands

Den Haag

Nieuwegein

Norway

Ås

Oslo

Stavanger

Tromsø

Poland

Bialystok

Gdańsk

Kalisz

Katowice

Kielce

Konin

Kraków

Lublin

Lublin

Olsztyn

Opole

Poznań

Rzeszów

Szczawno-Zdrój

Szczecin

Toruń

Warsaw

Warsaw

Warsaw

Wroclaw

Zielona Góra

Łódź

Portugal

Aveiro

Braga

Coimbra

Évora

Faro

Funchal

Lisboa

Ponta Delgada

Porto

Romania

Arad

Bacau

Bucuresti

Cluj-Napoca

Constanta

Craiova

Galati

Iasi

Ramnicu Valcea

Timișoara

Slovakia

Bratislava

Prešov

Slovenia

Koper

Ljubljana

Maribor

Spain

Albacete

Alicante

Badajoz

Barcelona

Bilbao

Ciudad Real

Donostia- San Sebastian

Ferrol

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Llanera

Logroño

Madrid

Madrid

Murcia

Oviedo

Palma

Pamplona

Paterna (Valencia)

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Santander

Santiago de Compostela

Sevilla

Toledo

Valencia

Valladolid

Vitoria- Gazteiz

Zaragoza

Sweden

Borlänge

Göteborg

Jönköping

Kramfors

Luleå

Malmö

Örebro

Östersund

Stockholm

Umeå

Västerås

Växjö

United Kingdom

Belfast

Bristol

Cambridge

Cardiff

Coventry

Inverness

London

Manchester

Newcastle

Yorkshire and Humber

Enter your message here *

* required field (you must enter data here)