Do you know…about the value of Unregistered Intellectual Property rights?

Did you know…that there is more to protecting the heart of your business than by registered intellectual property rights like patents, registered designs and trade marks; and that unregistered intellectual property rights can be just as valuable, if not more so in some businesses, than registered rights?  BUT only if you know they exist, which part of your business model they can protect, and how and to what extent.  Read on to find out more…

Patents, registered designs and registered trade marks are, as the name suggests, registered IP rights that act to enable their owners to prevent third parties from making commercial use of whatever the right covers, whether it be a new device or system, a redesigned (and better looking) product, or a trade name or logo.  Just like any other asset, ownership of these rights can add significant value to a business, in the sense that they enable their owner to keep their competitors from encroaching on the important parts of the business.  However, unregistered IP rights are often overlooked or disregarded when considering commercial assets and assessing the overall value of intellectual property rights within a business.

Unregistered IP rights include things like copyright, unregistered design right, semiconductor design right, database rights, and even know-how, trade secrets and confidential commercial information.  They arise as soon as the relevant subject of the right comes into existence or is created, when captured and mapped to the relevant parts of the business and then managed effectively, they can be very powerful in terms of protecting the USP of a business and/or its underlying processes, i.e. those things that set it apart from its competitors.

Many people will be aware of copyright, which can protect original so-called “artistic works”, and arises as soon as such an artistic work is created.  Artistic works would include, for example, an original website design, original logos, instruction manuals, and even software code, and the copyright they attract enables its owner to prevent a third party from copying their ‘artistic work’ (or a significant part of it).  Even databases that are created within your business (for example your contact database or mailing list) can attract a similar intellectual property right that would enable you to take action against a third party if they were to copy it or unlawfully make commercial use of it in some way.

Unregistered design right is a similar right, in that it arises automatically when an original object is created.  Of course, the design of that object could also be protected by a registered design, if appropriate, but even if not, unregistered design right can still be used to prevent a third party from copying your design.  An extension of this exists in the little-known semiconductor design right, which protects the ‘pattern’ fixed on a layer of semiconductor material (to form an integrated circuit).  Whilst a patent could protect the process of manufacturing a new integrated circuit (if that is new), or even its function if that is technically new, but often, a lot of work goes into the ‘layout’ of an IC, simply to deal with dimensional (or other) constraints, and it can be commercially very valuable to be able to prevent a competitor from being able to copy the solution devised.

Trade secrets, know-how and confidential information, whilst not strictly intellectual property rights as such, can be very powerful tools in protecting the USP and market share of a business, provided they are identified, captured and managed appropriately.

The easiest way to identify and capture all of the intellectual property in your business, and mapping that IP to the various aspects of the business so that their full value to the business can be assessed, is to perform an IP audit, and we can help with that.

To discuss an IP audit, or if you have any questions relating to intellectual property, please do contact us: Tel: 07714 797135 or email:

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