Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.
IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and the wider public interest, the IP system aims to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish.
Intellectual property (IP) rights are valuable assets for your business – possibly among the most important it possesses.
Your IP rights can:
- set your business apart from competitors
- be sold or licensed, providing an important revenue stream
- offer customers something new and different
- form an essential part of your marketing or branding
- be used as security for loans
You may be surprised at how many aspects of your business can be protected – its name and logo, designs, inventions, works of creative or intellectual effort or trade marks that distinguish your business can all be types of IP.
Explore the different types of IP in detail in our guides:
- trade marks
- get patent protection for your business
- copyright for your business
- protecting and handling your design
Some IP rights are automatically safeguarded by IP law, but there are also other types of legal protection you can apply for.
To exploit your IP fully, it makes strong business sense to do all you can to secure it. You can then:
- protect it against infringement by others and ultimately defend in the courts your sole right to use, make, sell or import it
- stop others using, making, selling or importing it without your permission
- earn royalties by licensing it
- exploit it through strategic alliances
- make money by selling it