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Intellectual Property




Intellectual property refers to a creation of the mind. This may be an invention, artistic or literary work, symbols, words, images and other forms of creative expression.


Intellectual property is protected by law in the same way as a tangible asset or physical property. Businesses must be aware of intellectual property rights to ensure they protect themselves competitively and to avoid inadvertently infringing on the intellectual property rights of others.


Intellectual property rights typically fall into two categories, those that are registered and those that are not. Registered rights must be registered, to afford the owner legal protection and prevent others using their intellectual property without their permission. Unregistered rights needn’t be registered and arise automatically.


The type of protection available to an individual or company may depend on what it is they are trying to protect.


This is a sign or symbol used by a company to identify it and distinguish it from others, for example a brand name, logo, slogan, colour scheme, or style of packaging.  Registered trademarks may be denoted by the letters ‘TM’, or an R in a circle like so ®.  Unregistered trademarks are also protected against what is known as ‘passing off’, whereby another company uses another’s trademark in an attempt to attract or poach their customers. To bring an action, one must show that their reputation is inextricably linked to that trademark- that the public associate it with their particular product or service, that the public have been misrepresented, and that they have suffered or are likely to suffer professionally as a result.  However, an action for passing off can be difficult to prove and expensive. This is why, given the option, it is preferable to register a trademark.


This protects a wide range of artistic and literary works including but not limited to poetry, plays, music, films, and television programmes. It prohibits unauthorised use of the work such as broadcasting or copying and permits the creator to take legal action for infringement or plagiarism. Copyright arises automatically on the creation of the work and lasts for up to 70 years.


These provide inventors with a monopoly over their inventions. The patent gives the inventor an exclusive right to use, sell or manufacture their invention, for a limited period, typically twenty years. To qualify for patent protection, the invention must be new, original- that is, not simply a development of an existing work, and capable of industrial application.  Historical patents include the lightbulb, the telephone and “cat’s eye” road markings.

Design rights

Common in the fashion industry, these protect the appearance of part or the whole of a physical product, including its shape, texture, colour, contours, and the materials used. These protect a design for up to 25 years depending on whether it is registered or unregistered.

We understand the importance of protecting an idea that is personal to both you and your company. Whilst an idea may be intangible, its value needn’t be. Our commercial lawyers can advise you as to how to best protect your intellectual property from those who want to copy or steal it, and to realise its potential by selling or licencing it.

We can draft all manner of agreements regarding the assignment, transfer, sale and licensing of intellectual property rights, as well as non-disclosure agreements or confidentiality agreements. We can also advise on what clauses should appear in your employment contracts and contracts with freelancers to ensure your rights are protected.


Stephen Avila

Solicitor, Head of Commercial Department


“Stephen has a detailed and broad knowledge of commercial law. His practical advice enables him to develop long-term relationships as a trusted advisor to his clients” – Neil Smith, LB Group Accountants.”

Matters Related to Intellectual Property:

Depending on your circumstances you may need advice for various reasons such as:

If you would like more information on intellectual property

Please complete our contact us form at the top of this page, email [email protected] or feel free to call us on 01206 577676.