FAQs about Intellectual Property

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help you protect your brand. Call our Intellectual Property hotline now on 0845 241 1847 or submit an enquiry to discuss your business’s needs.

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual Property refers to the output of your creativity. Your creative can find expression in the creation of a brand, the design of a logo, the production of a film, the writing of software, the invention of a brand new technical process – even the creation of a unique smell.

Why do I need to protect my intellectual property?

The Intellectual Property rights help you to protect your ideas, products or services so people can’t use them without your permission.

What is a copyright?

Copyright is the right  of a creator of a particular place of work to prevent other people from reproducing or making use of that work.

How long does a copyright lasts?

Copyright doesn’t last forever, and the period of protection varies fro different works:

  • Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works: 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last remaining author dies.
  • Films: 70 years from the end of the calendar years in which it was published.
  • Broadcasts: 50 years from the end of the calendar year of broadcast.
  • Typographical arrangement of published editions: 25 years from the end off the year of first publication.
  • Sui generis databases: 15 years from first publication.

What is copyright infringement?

If you’re the copyright owner in a piece of work, only you are permitted to do a number of specific acts during these periods of time; nobody else can do them without infringing your copyright.

The CDPA sets out these infringing acts, which are divided into two general categories: infringement and acts of secondary infringement.

What is primary infringement?

Primary infringement

The six acts of primary infringement don’t require knowledge of infringement or intention to infringe:

  • Copying the work, including downloading
  • Issuing copies of the work to the public
  • Renting or lending the work to the public
  • Performing, showing or playing the work in public
  • Communicating the work to the public
  • Making an adaption of the work or doing any of the above in relation to an adaptation

Authorising another person to do any of these acts is also a primary infringement.

What is secondary infringement?

Secondary infringement

Acts of secondary infringement require some knowledge by the infringer that the work is infringing and frequently apply to retailers or publishers.

These infringing acts include importing infringing copies of the work into the UK other than for domestic and private use; selling infringing copies; making, copies of copyrighted works; and knowingly transmitting infringing copies of the work over a telecommunications system such as the Internet.


How can I stop someone else infringing my copyrighted work?

You can get your legal representatives to send cease and desist letters. These letters inform the suspected infringer that he/she is making use of the work without the authorisation of the copyright owner and demanding that this action stops, or the infringer risks facing legal action.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a mark that a business uses to differentiate its goods or services from those of all other businesses. It’s a badge of (or trade) origin that tells the consumer ‘this is my product’.

What can I register as a trademark?

Here are some things businesses can and have registered:

  • Designs, letters and numbers
  • Slogans
  • Shape of a product or its packaging
  • Sounds
  • Smells
  • Gestures

How do I register a trademark in the UK and EU?

To register a trademark, you apply to the IPO, supplying details of your proposed mark at http://www.gov.uk/register-a-trademark.

You need to state the goods or services for which the mark is to be used. The registration applies only to the classes your request.  The IPO uses the NICE Classification system, which separates goods into 34 categories and provides 11 classes of services to choose from.

After you file your application, the IPO examines it to check that the registration requirements have been met, including conducting a comparison of the mark with other registered marks. Within 20 days of receipt of the application, the IPO sends you a report of two months in which to address any issues raised in the report.

If the examiner is satisfied with the application in its current form, or following any required amends, your application is published in the Trade Marks Journal  where everybody can read all about it for a further two months.

In absence of opposition, or if any opposition is withdrawn or proved unsuccessful, the trademark is registered and you receive a certificate of registration. The whole process can take only a few months from start to finish – voila!

How does design registration work and how much does it cost?

To register in the UK, you submit your application to the IPO. In the form, you set out what the design is and prove a representation of it, showing all relevant views of how it appears to the eye. You can also say whether you want to register the design straightaway or defer the application for a specified period of up 12 months.

A fee of £60 is payable for a single design to be published immediately. The cost of a deferred design is £40. Following registration, third parties can apply to cancel the registration on various grounds, such as lack of novelty and distinctive character or that you aren’t the rightful owner.

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