Why do you need to protect your work?
IP rights can help you maximise the amount of money you can make for your work, and give you options if you are copied. If you don’t manage them, you could be vulnerable to others using your work without your permission. Commercially, IP rights can be sold or licensed for a period of time, in return for a payment.
The different types of copyright and IP rights
There are four main types of IP right: copyright, design rights, trademarks and patents. These vary in terms of cost and how they can be obtained. You may also have to decide on the geographical coverage of your rights, and the type of product or service you wish the right to apply to.
Copyright © (this protection is free) applies to the things you write, draw, photograph, film, record, your website content, software programmes and databases.
Design rights (this includes some free protection) protect the external aesthetics of your products, their shape, form, and surface decoration.
Trademarks ™ (some free protection) protect the names you give your products or services, logos and brand elements.
Patents (this is paid-for) protect how products work and are generally relevant to inventions with an industrial application.
If your work is copied
If you rely on free protection, the responsibility will be on you to prove that you came up with the IP first, and that the other party had opportunity to see it. Or, in the case of free trademark protection, you will need to show that you have been negatively impacted by the activity, such as through loss of sales, which can be hard to prove if you are just starting out.
If you do pay to formally register your trademark or designs, the responsibility will be with the other party to prove their work existed before the date of your registration.