Intellectual property is the legal means to protect the result of creativity, imagination and ideas.
It is very wide ranging and the rules are often complex.
The main types of IP in the UK are summarised below:
Patents protect inventions.
An invention is a product or process which is new and not obvious.
Registered trade marks protect names, brands and logos, including not only words and designs, but also shapes, sounds, colours and smells.
Registered designs protect the appearance of new designs of individual character.
Designs can be protected to some extent in the UK and EU even if not registered.
Copyright protects the embodiment of an idea.
It is very wide ranging. A few examples of items protected include software, photographs, text, maps, drawings, typefaces, music, videos, works of art and performances.
Moral rights give authors, directors and performers rights to be correctly identified and to object against derogatory treatment of works; they also confer privacy on some films and photographs.
Confidential Information law protects secret and private information.
Database right protects against the unauthorised extraction of data from a database.
If your business or products have goodwill, you may be able to stop others trading off that goodwill under the law of passing off. For example, you may be able to stop someone copying your trading style or get-up.
You can also protect your reputation by stopping others making false statements about your goods under the law of malicious falsehood (also known as trade libel)