What is Intellectual Property?


Property, in legal terms, means anything you can own. Intellectual property (IP) is property that’s a result of mental effort and original creative thinking. Inventions, artworks, designs, works of literature, logos, brands and creations are all examples of IP. The most common types of IP are patents, trademarks, copyright and designs.

Different types of IP are split into two categories: industrial property and copyright:

  • Industrial property is for things like devices and inventions (which can be patented), trademarks, and industrial designs.
  • Copyright refers to artistic works, such as works of literature, photographs, musical works, drawings, paintings, sculpture, photography, and theatrical works.


Why do you need to protect your IP?

Protecting your IP is a safeguard against unscrupulous business-identity thieves. You need it to protect your brand and design, original inventions and creations, new technological creations, business name, slogans, logo, and marketing and advertising copy. You can also license or sell your IP to other businesses for a few once it’s protected. You also need to make sure you’re not infringing other business’ IP, else you face legal action.


Protecting your IP

First you need to identify what IP you have to protect. Some types are automatic and free (such as copyright), others you need to apply and pay for. For the types of IP rights you have to pay for (such as patenting) you need to establish whether it’s worth the money. Make sure your idea is commercially viable before committing time and money, and that it looks likely to generate more money than the protection costs.

If you would like to find out more, or to contact the University’s Senior Commercialisation Manager, please contact us at hive@kent.ac.uk

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