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Gary Townley

Business Events Manager
Intellectual Property Office

Concept House, Newport, NP10 8QQ, United Kingdom

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The  Intellectual Property Office is the United Kingdom’s principal authority on intellectual property (IP) with responsibility for granting patents, registering trade marks and designs, and leading on policy for all IP including copyright.




The UK’s economy thrives on innovative products and services, and intellectual property rights protect, define and reward creativity.


• Patents protect new technology for both products and processes. Patent owners can enjoy exclusive rights to their inventions for up to 20 years, enabling them to strike licensing deals or keep rivals at bay whilst they establish their brand. The public benefits from seeing details of inventions when published, and can use that information as a springboard for their own innovations.


• Trade marks can be registered to protect the distinctive names, logos, slogans or other signs of a trader’s products or services. The marks can be licensed or franchised to others, or used exclusively by the brand owner to distinguish themselves from rivals and retain the goodwill and reputation vested in their name.


• Designs for products or graphic symbols can be registered so as to protect the distinctive outward appearance of a new product. Where a product’s ‘look’ gives it market share, e.g. in fashion, domestic appliances or furniture, protecting the design is essential for dealing with ‘copycats’.


• Copyright is free and automatic – no registration is required. This right protects the core property of the UK’s Creative Industries, which are responsible for 8% of our economy’s gross domestic product. Books, papers and magazines, music, artwork and photographs, films, television and radio programmes, software and computer games are all protected by copyright. The owner of copyright can licence copies or adaptations of the work (e.g. translations; movie rights to a book etc).




British businesses prosper when they make informed decisions about intellectual property and understand how to use these rights to increase their profitability. Businesses also need to be aware of related issues like trade secrets, know how and confidentiality.


The Intellectual Property Office helps businesses to understand the risks and opportunities which intellectual property presents, through seminars and our website for instance. We also raise awareness of intellectual property in schools, colleges and universities – stressing its importance as a vital business asset for the entrepreneurs of the future.


The Office also provides commercial patent search services to access the vast amount of technical information available in published patents of which over 30 million exist worldwide. This avoids wasted effort and duplication of research, and can provide solutions to technical problems.



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