Intellectual property — a guide to protecting your assets

Different intellectual property rights protect different assets, each with their own rules on whether or not registration is required and how long the rights last. Below is an overview of these rights and a guide to some of the issues that companies should consider, preferably at an early stage when the assets themselves are being created or developed.

Signs which are used in trade to distinguish a company’s products or services from those of other businesses. A company’s corporate or product brand may sometimes be its most valuable asset.

For example, the total value of Interbrand’s Top 10 Best Global Brands is estimated at over $400bn (£264bn). Usually, trade marks are words (such as Microsoft) or logos (such as the McDonald’s golden arches). Shapes (such as the shape of a Coca Cola bottle), colours (easyJet’s colour orange) and even sounds (MGM’s lion’s roar) can also be protected…

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