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



A patent protects new inventions and covers how things work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made.

Your invention must:

  • be new
  • have an inventive step that is not obvious to someone with knowledge and experience in the subject
  • be capable of being made or used in some kind of industry

Your invention cannot be:

  • a scientific or mathematical discovery, theory or method
  • a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work
  • a way of performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business
  • the presentation of information, or some computer programs
  • an animal or plant variety
  • a method of medical treatment or diagnosis
  • against public policy or morality.

If your invention meets these requirements, you may want to consider applying for a patent.


Trade Marks


A trade mark is a sign which can distinguish your goods and services from those of your competitors (you may refer to your trade mark as your "brand"). It can be for example words, logos or a combination of both. The only way to register your trade mark is to apply to us - The Intellectual Property Office.

You can use your trade mark as a marketing tool so that customers can recognise your products or services.

Trade marks are acceptable if they are:

  • distinctive for the goods and services you provide. In other words they can be recognised as signs that differentiates your goods or service as different from someone else's.

Trade marks are not registrable if they:


  • describe your goods or services or any characteristics of them, for example, marks which show the quality, quantity, purpose, value or geographical origin of your goods or services;
  • have become customary in your line of trade;
  • are not distinctive;
  • are three dimensional shapes, if the shape is typical of the goods you are interested in (or part of them), has a function or adds value to the goods;
  • are specially protected emblems;
  • are offensive;
  • are against the law, for example, promoting illegal drugs; or;
  • are deceptive. There should be nothing in the mark which would lead the public to think that your goods and services have a quality which they do not.





A Registered Design is a legal right which protects the overall visual appearance of a product or a part of a product in the country or countries you register it.

For the purposes of registration, a design is legally defined as being "the appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product or ornamentation."

This means that protection is given to the way a product looks. The appearance of your product may result from a combination of elements such as shapes, colours and materials.

A Registered Design can be a valuable intellectual property right. It can form the basis of an infringement action against other parties, and will help you in stopping others from creating designs which are too similar to your own (within the same geographical area you have protected your design).

You may not be able to register your design if:

  • It is not a design by legal definition as described above
  • It is offensive
  • It consists of, or includes, certain protected flags and international emblems
  • It is solely dictated by the product's technical function




Copyright can protect:


  • literary works, including novels, instruction manuals, computer programs, song lyrics, newspaper articles and some types of database
  • dramatic works, including dance or mime
  • musical works
  • artistic works, including paintings, engravings, photographs, sculptures, collages, architecture, technical drawings, diagrams, maps and logos
  • layouts or typographical arrangements used to publish a work, for a book for instance
  • recordings of a work, including sound and film
  • broadcasts of a work

You should only copy or use a work protected by copyright with the copyright owner's permission.

Copyright applies to any medium. This means that you must not reproduce copyright protected work in another medium without permission. This includes, publishing photographs on the internet, making a sound recording of a book, a painting of a photograph and so on.

Copyright does not protect ideas for a work. It is only when the work itself is fixed, for example in writing, that copyright automatically protects it. This means that you do not have to apply for copyright.

A copyright protected work can have more than one copyright, or another intellectual property (IP) right, connected to it. For example, an album of music can have separate copyrights for individual songs, sound recordings, artwork, and so on. Whilst copyright can protect the artwork of your logo, you could also register the logo as a trade mark.


IP for Business


IP for Business is a range of online support tools to help SMEs and advisors identify, protect, use and grow their IP. It is made up of five individual yet complementary tools:

  • IP Basics - A series of free business owner's guides to understanding IP.
  • IP Equip - A free, interactive e-learning tool to help users identify assets which may be protected by IP rights.
  • IP Equip app - A free app available for iOS and Android devices, offering IP information at your fingertips.
  • IP Health Check - A free online tool to help businesses assess, identify and add value to their IP.
  • IP Master Class - A popular accredited course on IP for business professionals which can be completed face to face or online.

0300 300 2000

Coast to Capital

This site is operated by Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership. © Coast to Capital LEP 2013-22.

Information is provided on this website in good faith. However neither Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership nor any associated organisation or individual provide any warranty or accept any liability for information provided.



Thank you for sharing