Safeguarding your business ideas

You will have automatic copyright protection for writing and literary works, art, photography, films, TV, music, web content and sound recordings

‘Design right’ automatically protects your design for 10 years after it was first sold or 15 years after it was created – whichever is earliest. You can use it to stop someone copying your design.

Design right only applies to the shape and configuration (how different parts of a design are arranged together) of objects. You can also register your design for better protection provided it meets the eligibility criteria. You must register a design to protect 2-dimensional designs such as graphics, textiles and wallpaper.

You’ll need proof of when you created a design if you want to claim design right. This could be copies of your design drawings or photos:

  • kept with a bank or solicitor
  • that you’ve sent to yourself by registered, dated post and kept unopened

Protection you have to apply for includes:

  1. Trade Marks: for example product names, logos and jingles.
  2. Registered designs: covers the appearance of a product including shape, packaging, patterns, colours and decoration.
  3. Patents: inventions and products including, machines, machine parts, tools and medicines.

The time it takes to register these various protections varies from one month to around five years (in the case of patent applications).

You could register more than one type of protection. For example: register your name and logo as a trade mark; a product’s unique shape as a registered design; patent a new working part; or use copyright to protect your drawings.