What we mean when we talk about intellectual property is, in short, anything that could be considered a creation of the mind. This could be an invention, literary or artistic works, logo, symbol, name or image used in commerce. The term covers a fairly broad spectrum of concepts of various things that your tourism business might use to market itself online… an app, photography of your venue or attraction, your branding, and so on.
We recommend that your first stop for getting a good understanding of intellectual property is the Intellectual Property Office. It’s a great resource for helping the uninitiated find their feet and make sense of the basics. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the fundamentals before reading this article as we’ll be covering a range of terms that you may not yet be familiar with.
Firstly, let’s talk about patents. You might have developed a product that’s totally unique, but how do you stop one of your competitors from copying it? A patent might be the answer, as they protect new inventions and cover how they work, what they do and how they do it. For an invention to be patentable, it must be new, distinctive and it cannot have been made public. Find out if patenting might be the best way to protect your latest innovation.
Perhaps you’ve spend a significant sum on the branding of your tourism business, in order to make it instantly recognisable and differentiate it from the competition. If you’re concerned that your brand is at risk of being emulated by a competitor or in a way that might be damaging to your business’ reputation a trademark might be appropriate here. Trade marks can protect your brand and can make sure that nobody else can trade under your brand name/logo. Learn more about trademarks.
The Intellectual Property Office also has some great advice on design too. Protecting your ‘design’ doesn’t just apply to products, it could mean textile or character designs too for example. Read what the IPO has to say about design.
Another area that may be relevant to your business is protecting confidential information when you’re pitching for contracts. Sensitive trade secrets are the last thing you want to somehow become widely available, so we highly recommend that when working with a third party you investigate a confidentiality agreement, sometimes referred to as a non-disclosure agreement. The purpose of having on one these in place is that they allow you to take legal action if any confidential information is disclosed. Find a sample agreement.
What about things like drawings, recordings, photos or written material? This is where copyright comes in. The good news is that it’s an automatic right that covers all these assets, so you don’t need to do anything to officially register it, but you do need to manage it to make sure that fantastic new brochure or newly commissioned photography is covered. Read more about how to copyright.
Perhaps you’re thinking about selling part of your intellectual property, but aren’t sure just how to value it? Just like any other asset that belongs to your business your intellectual property can be sold or licensed to third parties. This can be a great way of bringing a new revenue stream into your business. Here are two good guides that cover valuing and licensing your intellectual property.
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