There are other ways to protect your Intellectual Property than only relying on copyright law.
Intellectual Property (IP) covers a wide range of subjects and you may find that you can protect your idea by another right.
- Companies House
Companies House is responsible for company registration in Great Britain.
Company law is different from trade mark law. You cannot stop someone using a trade mark, which is the same or similar to yours, just by registering your name with Companies House.
We cannot guarantee that the name of a company accepted for registration at Companies House is acceptable by us as a registered trade mark.
The company name may not qualify as a trade mark because, for example:
- It is not considered distinctive,
- It is a descriptive word or term
- It may indicate geographical origin,
- It may already be registered in someone else’s name
The following examples of company names would not be accepted as trademarks:
- Reliable Builders
- Cheap Car Insurance Company
In the same way, a trade mark, which is a word, might not be accepted for registration at Companies House.
- Company Names Tribunal
The Tribunal adjudicates in disputes about opportunistic company name registrations.
It is advisable to read all information, including the fact sheet, before submitting an application form
- Conditional access technology
Conditional access technology generally refers to technical measures, such as smart cards or other decoders, which allow users to view or listen to encrypted broadcasts.
Some broadcasts and other transmissions are in an encrypted form so that they can only be seen by a person who has the right decoding equipment, a system usually used when broadcasters wish to charge recipients of the transmission. On payment of the appropriate fee a person is given or is entitled to use a decoder and view the transmission. In the same way that people make illegal copies of copyright works, they may make unauthorized smart cards or other decoding equipment with the intention of selling them in competition with the legitimate decoders, and so depriving the broadcaster or cable operator of the payments that would normally be paid for reception of the transmissions. The law therefore sets out in what circumstances it is illegal to make and sell or otherwise deal in unauthorized decoders: there may be criminal as well as civil penalties. If you use an illegal decoder to receive broadcasts you’re not entitled to, you may be committing an offence.
The Telecommunications UK Fraud Forum (TUFF) represents some makers of encrypted transmissions who are concerned about illegal decoders in the United Kingdom.
- Copy protection devices
For copyright material issued to the public in an electronic form, you may decide to use technical measures so that it is not possible to make a copy of your material, that is, it is copy-protected.
It is also possible for you to use other technological measures to prevent other types of illegal uses of copyright material.
Where you have sold copies that are protected by technical measures, you may have the right to take action against a person who gets round or who makes, sells or otherwise deals in devices or means specifically designed or adapted to get round, the technical measures.
The right to take action is equivalent to the rights you have when suing for infringement of your copyright in the civil courts. Criminal offences may also apply to those who deal in the means to get round technical measures.
It is important that you do not make your invention public before you apply to patent it, because this may mean that you cannot patent it, or it may make your patent invalid.
However, that does not mean that you must never discuss your invention with anyone else. For example, you can discuss it with qualified (registered) lawyers, solicitors and patent attorneys because anything you say to or show them is legally privileged. This means it is in confidence and they will not tell anyone else.
Alternatively, you may need to discuss your invention with someone else before you apply for a patent – such as a patent adviser or consultant, or an inventor-support organization. If so, a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) can help. NDAs are also known as confidentiality agreements and confidentiality-disclosure agreements (CDA).
No single NDA will work in every situation. This means that you must think carefully about what to include in your NDA. You may want to consult a qualified lawyer or patent attorney if you are thinking about discussing your invention with someone else and are considering using a non-disclosure agreement.
Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) PDF document gives information and guidance about what you need to consider when disclosing an invention, including example NDA templates
- Database right
A database, that is a collection of data or other material that is arranged in such a way so that the items are individually accessible, may be protected by copyright as a literary work and/or database right. This protection can apply to both paper and electronic databases.
For copyright protection to apply, the database must have originality in the selection or arrangement of the contents and for database right to apply, there must have been a substantial investment in obtaining, verifying or presenting its contents. It is possible that a database will satisfy both these requirements so that both copyright and database right apply.
There is no registration for database right – it is an automatic right like copyright and commences as soon as the material that can be protected exists in a recorded form. However, the term of protection under database right is much shorter than under copyright. Database right lasts for 15 years from making but, if published during this time, then the term is 15 years from publication.
Many databases are a collection of copyright works, such as a database of poetry from the last fifty years where each poem will also be protected by copyright. So people compiling databases need to make sure that they have permission from the copyright owners for use of their material and people using databases need to be aware of the rights of the owners of underlying works as well as database right owners.
- Design right
The term “Design Right” refers to the specific legal protection available to unregistered designs in the UK.
There are specific differences between Design Right and Registered Designs. Registered Designs give you exclusive rights in a design, in the UK, for up to 25 years. You can stop people making, offering, putting on the market, importing, exporting, using or stocking for those purposes, a product to which your design is applied. You can protect two-dimensional designs or surface patterns as well as shape and configuration with a Registered Design.
By comparison, Design Right gives you automatic protection for the internal or external shape or configuration of an original design, i.e. its three-dimensional shape. Design Right allows you to stop anyone from copying the shape or configuration of the article, but does not give you protection for any of the 2-dimensional aspects, for example surface patterns. Protection is limited to the United Kingdom (UK), and lasts either 10 years after the first marketing of articles that use the design, or 15 years after creation of the design – whichever is earlier. For the last 5 years of that period the design is subject to a Licence of Right. This means that anyone is entitled to a licence to make and sell products copying the design.
If you are the owner of a design right subsisting in a design, you have the exclusive right to reproduce the design for commercial reasons by making articles to the design or by making a design document recording the design for the purpose of enabling articles to be made. If anyone else carries out these activities without your permission, they may infringe the design right.
However, it is more difficult to prove infringement of an unregistered Design Right as you must be able to prove it was copied, or that the potential for copying existed.
Infringement proceedings must be brought before the Courts, however some disputes concerning the subsistence of design right can be referred to us.
Does design right give protection abroad?
No, Design Right is effective only in the United Kingdom.
Designs may however be protected in all countries in the European Union through the Unregistered Community Design.
- Publication right
Publication right gives rights broadly equivalent to copyright, to a person who publishes for the first time a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or a film in which copyright has expired. However, there is one major difference; publication right only lasts for 25 years from the year of publication of the previously unpublished material.
It is important to note that the owner of publication right is the person who first publishes the unpublished material in which copyright has expired which will not necessary be the original owner of the copyright in the work.
- Intellectual property abroad
Intellectual property (IP) rights are territorial, which means they only give protection in the countries where they are granted or registered. Unprotected items can be used freely, including for import and export.
To protect your IP abroad, you usually need to apply in each country you want protection in, although this is not always necessary.
- Trade secrets
You should consider keeping something as a trade secret if:
- it is not appropriate for intellectual property (IP) protection
- you want to keep it secret or
- you want protection to extend beyond the term of a patent
- If it would be difficult to copy the process, construction or formulation from your product itself, a trade secret may give you the protection you need.
However, a trade secret does not stop anyone from inventing the same process or product independently, and can be difficult to keep.
The law of confidentiality protects trade secrets. To keep trade secrets protected, you must establish that the information is confidential, and ensure that anyone you tell about it signs a Non-Disclosure agreement (NDA). If they then tell anyone about it, this is a breach of confidence and you can take legal action against them.
Source: Intellectual Property Office
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