If your main market is the UK then you don’t need to worry about registering your copyright works, but you do need to keep evidence of the creation of the work and/or your ownership.
If you have used a consultant to create original copyright works for your business (e.g. write text or take photos for your website) you MUST have a written agreement signed by the consultant confirming that copyright in that work belongs to you.
If China or the USA are important sales markets or manufacturing territories then you should register your copyright works in those countries.
You should always use the © notice on all your original copyright works.
If the appearance of your product is important then consider applying for registered design right protection in the EU (or UK).
If the design is original then you will have unregistered design right protection for its original features and you must keep evidence of how the design was created and your ownership of it.
Always advertise the fact that you own design rights (whether registered or not) wherever possible – preferably on the product itself and/or on any packaging and in any advertising materials including your website. This will allow you maximise any damages if a third party infringes your design rights.
If your invention is novel and you have not disclosed it to anyone then you may be able to protect it with a patent. Call us to find out if this protection is available. If it is you may also be able to get tax relief.
If the invention has been disclosed without a confidentiality obligation in place then no patent protection will be available. So if you do invent products or processes in your business make sure that:-
- your employee contracts have clear confidentiality obligations
- you get a signed confidentiality agreement (or NDA – non disclosure agreement) from anyone to whom you disclose details of the invention
- check your security – make sure confidential information is properly stored and destroyed and that your employees do not work on their own computer systems in or outside of work.
If you want to keep something secret don’t tell anyone! If you have to tell someone make sure the someone has signed a confidentiality agreement and you know where every copy of the secret is held and that there is secure access only.
If you can get a registration for your trade mark(s) then do so as an unregistered trade mark is much harder to protect than a registered one.
If you have unregistered marks then keep evidence of your use of that mark (e.g. copies of orders and invoices which reference the mark, advertising copy and samples of use on products).
Always use the trade mark notices; ™ for unregistered marks and either ™ or ® for registered marks on products and/or packaging. Be careful not to use the ® notice in countries where you do not have registrations as this may be a criminal offence.
Contact an intellectual property rights solicitor
If you would like help and advice, speak to a member of our team of intellectual property solicitors today by filling out the enquiry form on this page.