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How and when should I use IP?

There are many simple and cost effective ways of protecting your ideas and your business. The information below shows you what you need to think about from the beginnings of an idea to starting a new business and marketing and manufacturing your product or service.

New idea

  • Search for existing patents
    You can use the free patents database to check whether your idea already exists or identify existing technology to help develop your own.

Development phase

  • Licensing
    You may need to licence-in other people’s technology to help you develop your idea, either from a University or another business
  • Partners
    Collaboration with other businesses or educational organisations can be vital to the development phase. Our Lambert Collaboration Tool External Link kit can help.

    If you talk to anyone about any new secret or collaboration make sure you ask them to sign a Non-Disclosure agreement PDF document(750Kb) first.

IP protection (pre-market entry stage)

  • Technology
    You are developing your technology but how should you protect it?

    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.

    You could file for a Patent which would start to protect your technology from your competitors. You must not tell anyone about your idea before you file it with us.
  • Design or Artistic Creation
    If the design of your product is unique and makes you stand out from your competitors then consider design registration.

    Original, creative and artistic works are automatically covered by copyright.

Starting a business?

  • Business name
    Just because you have registered your company name with Companies House, doesn’t mean it is protected. Someone else could use it.

    Your name and brand is a valuable asset to your business so think about protecting it by registering it as a trade mark.
  • Your website
    Most businesses will develop a website to promote their products and services. Many will subcontract this work to web developers.

    Remember, a contractor will retain the copyright on any of the work they do for you unless it is specifically assigned to you in the contract.

    The universal copyright symbol © together with the owners name and date should be added to any of the original information on your website.
  • Promotional items
    You will probably produce brochures outlining your product or service along with any technical manuals. If you write this yourself it is automatically protected by copyright.
  • Investors
    As Dragon’s Den has shown us, raising finance can be vital to the growth of a business and the launch of a new product or service.

    Before talking to any investors ensure they sign a Non-Disclosure agreement.

IP Protection (Market entry stage)

  • Manufacturing
    You might not manufacture your products in-house, but sub-contract this out. If you do, protect yourself with a Non-Disclosure agreement so your products can’t be copied.
  • Licensing
    If you have a Patent you may decide to exploit it by licensing your technology to other businesses.