What is Intellectual Property?

Legal protection of ideas and inventions

Intellectual property (IP) legally protects the ideas and inventions of inventors and business owners. It allows people and businesses behind new ideas the freedom to develop and make money from those ideas.

Intellectual property can stop your competitors copying or stealing your ideas. If you take care of your intellectual property you will find that it not only protects your ideas but provides a source of revenue. Taking care of your intellectual property is also the best thing you can do to establish your company’s brand and reputation (just ask Coca-Cola, Adidas or Apple).

IP is relevant to commercial creations and innovations. These creations and innovations include brand iconography and company names, artistic and photographic work, inventions, designs and literary works. IP is protected by IP law and comprises patents, copyright, trademarks and designs.


Patents can be granted for functional processes and inventions. Whether it’s a car’s smallest component or an entirely new type of vehicle, an idea is potentially patentable if it is ‘new’. A patent protects an invention for up to twenty years; for the duration of the patent it is illegal for anyone other than the patent owner to make, use or sell the invention.


Copyright refers to creative works. It is an automatic right that protects literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works; films; typographical arrangements; broadcasts and sound recordings – copyright even protects computer programs. By enforcing copyright, the owner of a creative work can profit from such things as musical compositions, photographs and literary abstracts.


A trademark protects a company’s brand and helps a company define its corporate image. Trademarks also help companies establish their services or goods as being distinct from competitors’ services or goods (look at Pepsi and Coca-Cola, or Adidas and Nike). Trademarks can even inspire loyalty to a company’s brand. A trademark can protect such things as company names and logos.

  Registered designs

Registered designs protect the visual appearances of products. The protection afforded by a registered design includes a product’s shape, texture, material and even its colour. Designs help establish a product’s aesthetic appeal, and are especially important if the aesthetic appeal makes the product more commercially attractive than a competitor’s product.

It might not seem like it, but intellectual property is important for inventors, for start-up businesses and even for established businesses. Here at the Business & IP Centre we believe that protecting your intellectual property should be a priority. If you would like to know how to protect your intellectual property, book a free IP surgery with a trained member of staff. Our IP advisers provide impartial, free and confidential IP advice, and you will have access to hard-copy and online resources that will help you review your own and your competitors’ IP.

Intellectual Property Office (IPO)

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is the official UK government body responsible for intellectual property (IP) rights including patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.

Visit the Intellectual Property Office Website

IP Surgeries

BIPC offer a number of one to one IP sessions delivered by our staff, as well as IP related Experts sessions. Here are our current IP-related surgeries and sessions:

BIPC IP Surgery

Innovator in Residence

IP and Corporate Solicitor

IP Protection and Strategy Expert

Patent Attorney in Residence

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