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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 September, 2003, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Patents and copyright
Top secret
Patents and trademarks can protect your business ideas
Intellectual property is a valuable business asset and should be protected.

Patents give inventors the right to prevent others from making, using or selling their inventions without permission.

It also brings the right to take legal action against others who might be infringing the invention and to claim damages.

UK patents last for up to 20 years and are available from the UK Patent Office.

Most patents are given for incremental improvements in technology, rather than radical new approaches.

A design right works similarly to a patent but involves the look, colouring, shape, texture or and/or materials associated with a product.

Trademarks

A trademark can be any form of sign used to distinguish the products and services of one business from those of another, involving logos, words, shapes and colours.

TYPES OF PROTECTION
Patent
Design right
Trademark
Copyright

Registration of a trademark gives the owner exclusive rights of use and the right to take legal action against those who infringe it.

Copyright provides economic rights to the creators of material such as art, literature, music and films, enabling them to make copies of the material, perform it, broadcast it, and so on.

Anyone else wanting to use the copyright material must obtain permission from the owner of the copyright. Copyright protection is automatic, with no official registration required.


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