Paul Kanolik
Partner & Solicitor
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Date Published:11 Mar 2016 Last Updated:12 Apr 2021

Intellectual Property Rights – What are they and why Protect them?

Commercial Disputes

What is intellectual property?

All businesses, big or small, own intellectual property rights, which can either be in a registered form such as a trade mark or patent, or an unregistered form such as copyright or design rights. They are intangible rights and, despite their non-physical nature, can often be one of, if not the, most valuable assets of a business.

There are a number of different types of intellectual property rights, which include trade marks, copyright, patents and design rights. These rights can typically occur in a business’s:

  • Branding (e.g. name, logo, business slogan/strapline);
  • Goods or services; and
  • Literary (e.g. website content, computer software, databases), artistic (e.g. photographs, drawings/paintings, sculptures), dramatic or musical works.

Why protect your intellectual property?

In light of the potential value of a business’s intellectual property rights, as well as the investment made by the business in creating or developing these rights, it is important to ensure that they are adequately protected. Otherwise, a business may find that it either ends up breaching the intellectual property of another, is unable to protect its own intellectual property, or loses the value in its intellectual property.

Certain intellectual property rights, such as copyright, are automatic and do not necessarily require registration. Other rights, such as trade marks (e.g. in a company’s logo, slogan or brand name) may be registered in order to increase the level of protection for the business.

Have your intellectual property rights been breached?

There are various ways in which intellectual property rights can be breached. Some of the more common examples of breaches include the following:

  1. Unlicensed copying, altering, distributing, performing or reproduction of a business’s copyright (e.g. website content, branding, products, website content or other promotional materials;
  2. A business misrepresenting or passing itself off as another business, or passing off the goods/services it is providing as being the goods/services of another business;
  3. Using or registering a trade mark, name, logo or slogan which is similar or identical to that of another business.

What happens if someone else has breached your intellectual property?

Depending upon what type of intellectual property right has been breached, and whether it is protected, there are various different options and remedies which may be available to a business. This may include a claim for damages as a result of the breach or an injunction to prevent a breach from continuing.

How can Ellis Jones help you?

Ellis Jones Solicitors acts on a wide range of contentious and non-contentious intellectual property matters. If you would like to obtain advice in relation to either protecting your intellectual property rights or taking action because you think they may have been breached, please contact Paul Kanolik at paul.kanolik@ellisjones.co.uk or on 01202 525333.