So you’ve built a great brand, reputation and following for your product or service – how do you keep it secure?
All design is covered in the UK under copyright law, however this only covers and protects your logo etc in terms of being copied or adapted by other designers within the UK. Intellectual Property (IP) is a minefield these days with so much information being available in the public domain – and a more laid-back attitude that has arisen from an increase in designers that have not come into the industry through the traditional path. For this reason, more and more businesses are looking for additional ways to secure their IP. There are a number of ways you can do this, and the ideal solution will depend on your product/service and what you are looking to protect.
We would always advise you to get advice from an IP law Professional. We have previously used Harrison Clark Rickerbys for a recent client.
Copyright is what protects an individual design and its designer. For instance, your brochure would be copyright to the original designer or agency that created it for you under the majority of circumstances.
All designs are automatically covered by copyright within the UK, although we would always advise keeping all proof of your designs, time and date stamped and mailed to yourself unopened until the occasion arises. Proof can start right from the client briefing stage, so be sure to document and identify any files you are provided with as well as your initial sketches and any prototypes. The copyright will remain with the designer unless agreed by a legal agreement (either through employment contract or through the client agreement). Kissed Off only release copyright under very specific circumstances (and this is covered under our terms and conditions), and then it has to be issued in a certain way. We take copyright very seriously both on behalf of our design work and on our client’s behalf.
Trademark protects you from others using your logo to promote their own services and other nefarious purposes.
To apply for a trademark, you have to go through the IPO – we would recommend using an excellent IP legal service to do this in the most cost effective and secure manner. Mistakes in trademarks applications can be costly. The IPO only deals directly with UK trademarks, and for global coverage you would need to apply to each country individually. There is a period of public consultation and you should allow 3 months for the whole process as well as considering whether to trademark your name and/or your logo.
Patent protects an individual product or product element and it must be proved to be unique from other products already on the market.
A patent is on the design of a product as a tangible item. It must be unique to other items already on the market – whether they are patented or not. For instance, you couldn’t patent a victoria sponge as the recipe is widespread and has historical usage. A patent application requires technical drawings that prove the design belongs to you, and can also include a product sample. There is also an application form for you to describe what makes your design unique. This will prevent others from creating the product the same as yours, but may not stop people from finding an alternative solution to the same problem. We would advise taking legal advice before starting and during your application.
What else can I do to protect my brand?
We would also advise our clients to get accounts started on all social media as soon as they have decided on a name for their product or brand. You can also work towards getting authenticated status for many platforms.
We also advise to do regular Google image checks for any images that are exclusively their copyright to check for any abuse on other websites and social media.
This guidance is offered for information only, and not intended as legal advice. We would always advise that a client seeks qualified legal counsel.