Protecting innovation and creativity

Date online: 07/09/2021

Aamna Mohammad, a trainee solicitor at Molesworths Bright Clegg, explains how people and companies can protect their Intellectual Property with copyright, trademarks and patents.

Rochdale has a rich history of innovation and creativity, from the likes of Hamlet Nicholson who, in 1860, invented the first compound cricket ball, which is still used in modern cricket today, to the writer, comedian, songwriter and musician Bill Oddie OBE.

Rochdale’s passion for innovation continues to thrive in the 21st century with the recent announcement that the Advanced Machinery & Productivity Institute (AMPI) will be built here, after government funding was secured (see page 38).

AMPI will form a new UK hub for machine-related technology research and development, technical skills, and industrialacademic collaboration, with a single ambition to develop new machines, technology and people needed to manufacture the products of the future.

Innovation and creativity will be the heartbeat of AMPI, but how do we protect the ideas and inventions (collectively called ‘Intellectual Property Rights’) that will be generated?

You may ask yourself what is ‘Intellectual Property’ and what ‘Rights’ do you have?

Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as: inventions, designs, symbols, names, and images used in business. IP is protected in law by, for example, copyrights, trademarks and patents.

Copyright, put simply, is a legal right that protects the use of your literary, artistic, or musical work once your idea has been physically expressed. Today, all EU countries grant copyright lasting for a minimum of 70 years after the author’s death.

There is no official system of registration of copyright in the UK. The copyright arises automatically as soon as a piece of work is created. In practice, one product tends to give rise to multiple rights. For example, a TV show is likely to have separate copyrights in the dialogue, sound recording and music. If the show originated from a book, that book would also attract its own copyright.

Unlike copyrights, trademarks do not arise automatically. A trademark is a sign used to distinguish the goods and services as belonging to a specific company and recognises the company’s ownership of the brand.

Typically, trademarks take the form of words or logos though it is possible to protect more usual forms of trademarks such as colours, slogans, shapes of products or packaging, sounds, motions and even smells.

A registered trademark gives its proprietor certain rights to prevent unauthorised third parties using identical or confusingly similar trademarks. In 2017, over 80, 000 applications were made to register a trademark in the UK.

In addition to copyright and trademarks, you can also protect certain types of technical innovation, in the form of a patent. A patent protects new inventions and may cover aspects such as how things work, what they are made of and how they are made. The invention is set out in a patent document which is registered at an Intellectual Property Office.

The patent system rewards innovation and the improvement of industrially applied techniques.

If a company has spent time and money developing new technology, it can protect it by registering a patent.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Molesworths Bright Clegg is a firm of solicitors established in the United Kingdom and is registered with theSolicitors Regulation Authority.

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