Intellectual Property

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, now in place, means change. It will require adapting to new trading arrangements, rules and regulations. This information for cross-border SMES in Ireland and Northern Ireland will introduce intellectual property, what it means, the position now and next steps.

Intellectual Property FAQ’s

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is defined as something that you create using your mind. For example, a story, an invention, an artistic work or a symbol.

Why is it important to protect my Intellectual Property?

Having the right type of intellectual property protection helps you to stop people stealing or copying:

  • The names of your products or brands.
  • Your inventions.
  • The design or look of your products.
  • Things you write, make or produce.
What are the main types of Intellectual Property protection?

The main intellectual property rights cover a number of areas, including Patents for Inventions, Trade Marks, Industrial Designs and Copyright:

  • Patents are concerned with inventions producing a technical result – of new and improved products, processes and uses that are capable of industrial application.
  • Trade Marks are concerned with brand identity – principally of goods and services. They can be distinctive words, marks or other features, the purpose of which is to make a distinction in the mind of a customer between different traders, products and services.
  • Designs are concerned with the appearance of a product – of the whole or a part of a product – features of, in particular, shape, configuration, contours, texture or materials of the product itself not dictated by functional considerations.
  • Copyright is concerned with original literary works such as novels, poems and plays, musical and artistic works such as musical compositions, sound recordings and TV and radio broadcasts, software, multimedia films, drawings, maps, charts, plans, paintings, photographs and sculptures and works of architecture. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs.

It should also be noted that intellectual property also encompasses such areas as know-how, trade secrets, protection of plant varieties etc. It is often the case that more than one type of intellectual property right can be applied to the same creation.

The Position Now

The transition period has ended and the European Union and the United Kingdom reached an agreement in principle on the EU-UK / UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. From 1st January 2021 there will be changes to UK intellectual property law to ensure the smooth departure from EU IP systems. 

Next Steps

Existing EU trademarks 

On 1 January 2021, the UK Intellectual Property Office will create a comparable UK trademark for every registered EU trade mark (EUTM). You will not need to pay for your equivalent or comparable UK trade mark – and there will be as little administration involved as possible.

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