IP 101 for creatives.

14 July 2020
Posted by Sarah Ramsey-Caudle


IP 101 for creatives

Intellectual property (IP) is everything for a creative business. IP law is complex, and it can be difficult to understand and navigate. This often means creatives are in the dark about their IP assets and don’t take the necessary steps to protect themselves. Here, we break down the basics.

What is IP?

‘IP’ is a bit of an umbrella term, which actually encompasses different types of intellectual property rights (IP Rights). This is where things can get confusing. First things first, it’s important to know what the different IP Rights are, and the types of creations that each of them protects.

The common thread between them, of course, is that they all begin with an idea – they are a product of the human mind, whether that be art, music, literature, a brand or a new invention.

What are the different IP Rights?

Patents protect new inventions and innovations, that is, the way something works.

Trade Marks protects the branding that distinguishes one business from another.

Designs protect the appearance of a product, that is, the way something looks.

Copyright protects original works of authorship. It is important to note that the copyright protects the expression of the idea, not the idea itself.

What about trade secrets?

Technically speaking, trade secrets are not an IPR, however they do often fall under the umbrella term ‘IP’. Trade secrets are confidential information, protected by the common law and equitable duties of confidence. Trade secrets are commonly used as an alternative to patent protection so as to avoid publicly disclosing the invention or innovation. The recipe for Coca-Cola, for example, is protected as a trade secret. 

Why does IP protection matter for creatives?

Effective IP protection is so important for creative businesses, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, for every great idea, there are copycats lurking. Effective IP protection safeguards you against other people and businesses using your creative ideas for their own gain without your consent.

Secondly, IP protection promotes business growth. Particularly for small businesses, protecting your unique products, services and brand means competitors are unable to take away your valuable market share. This, in turn, promotes faster growth and higher revenue.

Finally, IP assets themselves can be very lucrative. Successfully commercialising your IP assets means that, as the exclusive owner, you can authorise others to use your IP through a licencing agreement. Licence fees and royalties can make for very handsome revenue streams! And, like any asset, you can also sell your IP.

Want to know more? 

Over the next few months, Studio Legal will be doing an IP Series here on the blog. Each month we will delve deeper into each of the different IPRs to provide further insight on how they each work in practice, and give you some tips on protecting and commercialising your IP. Stay tuned!

The information in this article is of a general nature. It does not constitute formal legal advice, and should not be relied on as such. Please see the full disclaimer in our website terms. Please contact Studio Legal if you are seeking advice about a specific legal matter.