Many innovations can be protected through intellectual property (IP) rights.

If your innovation includes a groundbreaking invention, it can be protected through a patent. Patents protect the interests of inventors by ensuring that an inventor can control the commercial use of their invention.

Copyright protects artistic expressions like music, films, plays, photos, artwork, works of architecture and other creative works. The term “creative works” is defined very broadly for copyright purposes, such that copyright may be used to protect functional texts such as user guides and product packaging as well as works of art.

Design rights protect the shape and form of a product, i.e., what it looks like (whereas the functionality of a product – how it works – is protected by a patent).

There is also legal protection for trademarks and trade secrets. Brands are often covered by Trademarks and Trade Secrets often reflect the way an organisation does business (e.g. sales or production process). If the latter is copied by a competitor, and the information is not in the public domain, this could be treated as industrial espionage. A criminal act.

Components of IP

New Intellectual Property

Intellectual property protection is essential to avoid having your potentially valuable ideas stolen and imitated without punishment. Check what you can protect and how with the UK government’s Intellectual Property Office or the British Library’s IP Centre.

Existing IP

Do you have existing patents, copyright or design rights you can exploit? And are you confident that you are not infringing anyone else’s IP?


You may be able to create value from your IP by licensing it out to another business; equally you may need to license in IP from another rights holder.