You will have to prepare a patent specification to explain your invention and there is a rigorous examination procedure to check that the idea is genuinely new and not obvious so it is well worth getting professional help.
The process can take several years and cost you a few thousand pounds but if you are successful a patent gives you the strongest protection available. For up to 20 years you can stop anyone else using your invention in their product, whatever they call it and however it looks.
Remember that your patent application has to be filed while the idea is still secret so talk to us before your customers or your mates in the pub!
To find out more about patents click here.
As the reputation of your business grows, you can build up rights to stop other people passing themselves off as you. But it can be a heavy burden to prove that your reputation is strong enough and at risk of being damaged. It is much better to register your trade mark, which gives you maximum protection from the outset against anyone who uses a similar trade mark for similar types of product or service. A registered trade mark is also a useful weapon against abuse of your domain name.
A trade mark registration will cost from about £800 for the UK or £1500 for the EU, depending on the range of products that you want to cover. It lasts 10 years at first and can then be renewed repeatedly.
The types of trade marks that are easiest to register and to enforce against infringers consist of invented words (Google®, Xerox®); real words that do not describe the products (Apple®, Mars®); or distinctive logos. You can file your application at any time – as long as you don’t leave it so long that someone else gets in first!
To find out more about trade marks click here.
From a dress to a dressing table or a mobile phone to a mobile home, if your product’s shape makes a different impression from what’s been done before, it can be protected. There can also be design rights in 2D products such as wallpaper patterns and computer icons.
You get some rights automatically as soon as you record the design in a drawing or model (so don’t throw it away). These “unregistered” rights allow you to stop anyone trading in copies of your design within the EU but they only last for 3 years.
You can get stronger rights lasting up to 25 years by registering the design. With our help the application will cost a few hundred pounds for the UK only and you should get the registration certificate back within a few days. To make sure you do not lose out on any rights, talk to us while the product design is still confidential.
To find out more about design rights click here.
If your idea can’t be protected by a patent, trade mark registration or design rights but is still the “original intellectual creation of an author”, it will automatically be protected by copyright. This applies to most text, photographs and other graphics, including websites.
The good news is that there is no registration procedure so it doesn’t cost you anything and in most cases the rights last for at least 70 years. The bad news is that, without a registration, it depends on you to keep good records to prove how and when the work was created so make sure that you date and archive the early drafts.
One other point to watch is that – just as with your wedding photos – if you commission someone outside your business to create the work for you, you do not automatically own the copyright in it so you should ask for a written assignment.
To find out more about copyright click here.