There are currently lots of stories in the press about large corporations grabbing small businesses and independent designers’ ideas, designs, brands and straplines.
The law should protect small businesses, and in turn, small business owners should know how to utilise the law to their advantage.
Brands and straplines
Brands and straplines can be asserted as being your own simply by using the “™” sign whenever you include it. Using this warns people that you consider the brand or strapline to be your property; however it doesn’t give you any registered rights.
If you want registered rights then you can register brands and straplines in the Trademarks Office. This is a relatively quick and simple process that anyone can complete.
You would be sensible not to use a brand or strapline until you have first checked that it is not already somebody else’s! A bit of research on Google, Bing or any other search engine will go a long way to helping you with this, as well as searching in the UK Intellectual Property Office trademark registry.
Currently, the UK trademark registry shows both UK and European registered trademarks following a simple search.
Graphic and three dimensional designs
Ideas expressed in design terms are automatically protected. Newly created two dimensional (and three dimensional one-off) designs are protected by copyright. It is advised that whenever and wherever the design is displayed it should be accompanied by “© 2018 [your name, All rights reserved]”.
Even designs of three dimensional objects intended for industrial use are protected by design rights, albeit for a limited time, nevertheless the allocated decade is not to be sniffed at. Always insert “Design Right 2018 [your name, All rights reserved]” wherever the design is depicted, whether physically or electronically.
Novel inventions that are capable of industrial production can be covered by getting a patent. Don’t tell anybody about the idea and how it works, apart from a solicitor or patent attorney, and take professional advice as early as possible.