Frances Salisbury discusses copyright and trade marks for start-up companies. In this article, how to know if your idea has been copied and when you should take action...
Registered design protection is available to protect new aspects of the appearance of your product. Some protection for designs arises automatically, but to be able to enforce it you have to be able to prove that the infringer actually copied you, and didn’t come up with the design independently. If you apply for registration, however, it’s not necessary to prove that they copied your design to enforce your right.
The names of your products, brands or services can be protected by trademarks. They can be used to protect the words themselves, and also logos, and even shapes and smells associated with your brand. Registering trademarks allows you to stop someone setting up a similar brand, or using a similar name or logo to sell similar goods or services which might confuse your customers, leading to lost sales.
Copyright protects artistic works, and this can include drawings and text relating to your product, such as on your webpage or in the instructions you supply with your product. Copyright arises automatically, but to enforce it you will need to prove an infringer actually copied you.
Next up… IP rights.