Have you ever come up with an original idea and wondered how to protect it? Well in this article, we’re sharing our 10 tips for protecting your intellectual property from thieves.

When it comes to protecting our physical property, including our homes, cars, and other precious possessions, most of us are pretty proactive in making sure that we are covered. However, studies show that many people still don’t put the same care and attention into protecting their intellectual property.

The Ministry of Justice reported 181 convictions relating to intellectual property disputes in 2020, a low figure compared to the number of crimes actually committed. So, with this in mind, how can you protect your brilliant ideas? Take a look…

What is Intellectual Property?

The term ‘intellectual property’ covers several items including: 

  • Inventions
  • Designs
  • Symbols
  • Names
  • Images
  • Literary works
  • Artistic works, including music

Essentially, intellectual property is an idea or concept which has been created by a person or people, often for commerce purposes. Intellectual property is covered under either the Offences Under The Trade Marks Act (TMA) or the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA).  

An example of an intellectual property dispute may be that a company’s logo or slogan is copied by another competing business.

How is Intellectual Property Protected? 

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Intellectual property disputes can be time consuming and frustrating. This is very much a case where prevention is better than the cure. Here are some ways you can start protecting your intellectual property today: 

  1. Register with Relevant Authority 

When you’ve had your lightbulb moment and created your intellectual property, you’ll first want to confirm that your idea is original or unique. Following on from this, you need to register it with the relevant authority.   

When developing your property, search through patents and trademarks to check that your idea or design doesn’t already exist. If it doesn’t, you can then begin the process of protecting your property through the correct agency.

  1. Seek Lawful Advice 

If you’re unsure of any aspects of the law when it comes to protecting your property, seeking expert advice from a solicitor or expert is almost always a good investment.

  1. Protect Your Assets 

If you own intellectual property, one of the first things you should do is to make sure that you have a proper contract in place to protect your assets, just as you would for your physical property.

  1. Keep Documents and Records of Work 

From the moment that you first begin to develop your intellectual property, you should be keeping proper records of what you’re doing and when you’re doing it. This can be as simple as sending yourself an email as written evidence. 

  1. Patent Applications 

Making a patent application is a great way of putting your stamp on your idea and also alerting others to your claim.

  1. Ongoing Assessment  

It’s important to remember that your idea or property may evolve and change throughout the development process. As such, you’ll want to ensure that you’re keeping an eye on changes and applications to make sure that you’re keeping your property covered. 

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  1. Keep Work Up to Date 

Throughout the process, continue to identify parts of your property which may be protected by copyright. Then, you should ensure that this is kept updated and is accurately represented.  

Copyright is designed to protect your work and to stop anybody else using it without your permission. This only works if you have all your ducks in a row and the work is registered and up to date.

  1. Think Global Protection 

A lot of people, when looking to protect their intellectual property, make the mistake of only doing so within the country that they’re living in or doing business in. 

While this is a good start, it’s also important to look further afield to ensure that your property is also protected overseas, otherwise, you may be leaving yourself wide open to a possible dispute.

  1. Spread the Word 

The tips that we’ve mentioned above will all help to protect your intellectual property in an official capacity, but you don’t have to stop there. Make sure that you share your ideas and plans with trusted colleagues or friends who will then be able to act as witnesses in the event of a dispute. 

Don’t Give Chance for Others to Steal Your Ideas…

Intellectual property disputes can be long winded and complex and, if you’re unlucky, may result in a ruling against you. This can be incredibly frustrating when you’ve put in a significant amount of work.

Where applicable, you should always think about protecting your work in an official capacity. For example, copyright or trademark your work, as this is your first defense against sneaky so and so’s copying your work.  

You should also keep comprehensive notes and records throughout the development of your intellectual property and keep these stored digitally and safely (no hastily scribbled notes sitting around in a drawer). As long as you have records and the relevant registrations, you can help prevent theft of your property. 

Images

Umberto: https://unsplash.com/photos/lhJrm1BRVV0

Zach Key: https://unsplash.com/photos/rKE6rXOl14UMarkus Winkler: https://unsplash.com/photos/9XfSFjcwGh0