Frequently Asked Questions on Intellectual Property Protection

1. Are intellectual property assets?

Without a doubt, intellectual property (IP) is one of the most important assets that a company will own. IP can be licensed, bought, sold, hired or mortgaged like any other form of property. One of the main sources of IP is from the results of research and development work. In order for companies and individuals to maintain the value of their IP, they must ensure a sufficient level of protection and safeguard against infringing a third party’s IP, writes Dr Rosanna Cooper.

2. What are intellectual property rights (IPRs)?

Intellectual property right is the right to use intellectual property. IPRs fall within two main categories, registered and unregistered rights. Patents, trade marks and registered designs are registrable rights. Unregistered IPRs include copyright, designs, brands and know-how. Domain names can be classed as quasi-registered rights.

3. How to obtain a UK patent?

Patents protect inventions such as processes and products. Patents in the UK are obtained by filing an application with the UK Patent Office. On examination of the application, the Patent Office determines whether a patent should be granted. The application goes through various stages and can take up to four years before it is granted, although under the UK system, the process can be expedited.

Should patent searches be carried out?

It is always worthwhile to carry out relevant patent searches to establish the risk of infringement.

4. What is the test for patentability?

To be patentable, an invention must satisfy each of the following conditions:

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