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Reviewed by Alec Griffiths, IP Manager | 1 February 2024.

Types of Intellectual Property Rights in the UK

Types of Intellectual Property Rights in the UK

It can be easy for a company to value it’s tangible assets as these tend to be physical assets that are easy to recognise. Intangible assets are sometimes more difficult to see but can be even more valuable to a business and this is where Intellectual Property (IP) sits.

An intellectual property right gives the inventor rights of ownership and protection. In the UK depending on the nature of your IP, it will fall into one of a number of different categories and can be broken down as:

  • Patent
  • Copyright
  • Designs –  registered and unregistered
  • Trademarks
  • Trade secret

Overview of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)

What are the different types Intellectual Property Rights in the UK?

Patents are the most commonly sought form of IP protection for commercialising university research. They relate to how something works, preventing the unauthorised usage of a process or invention. In order to qualify for a patent, the idea must be new, it must be directly applicable within an industry and it must include a degree of invention

Copyrights are commonly applied in creative industries, because they protect recorded works of many forms including literature, film, art, music and radio broadcasts. A copyright gives the author legal ownership, and equipping them to take legal action in the case of plagiarism or infringement.

Trademarks identify your particular product or organisation – and it can be issued for a name, slogan, symbol or otherwise as long as it is not already in common usage.

Designs protect the visual appearance of physical articles, surface decorations, GUIs (graphical user interfaces), computer icons and the like. In the UK there are two types of design right.

  • UK registered design –  protects against substantially similar versions of your design.
  • UK unregistered design – protects against exact copies of your design.

Trade Secrets protect pieces of information such as methods, ingredients or formulas that are secret and have commercial value.

Which intellectual property right is the best fit for the IP in my business?

What are the benefits of different intellectual property rights?

Businesses shouldn’t be intimidated by the legal and academic jargon surrounding IP Whatever your business, your product, and process IP could be significant and can be one of the most valuable assets your business owns. At Source Advisors we believe that we need to change the conversation around IP with straight forward information that helps you consider your options, considering IP for commercial benefit rather a matter of protection.

How do you develop an IP strategy?

Our three top tips when developing an IP strategy are:

1. What assets do you want to create?

2. What do you know and what should you know?

3. What is the benefit to the IP strategy?

The last question is the most important. It should dictate the level of investment made in your own knowledge and the assets you wish to create. The likelihood of success can be better framed when you know what you are trying to achieve.

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