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How to protect your intellectual property

As someone working in the creative industry you’re probably used to being faced with a number of copyright and creative laws that you have to abide by. And while you are likely to politely comply with these regulations to ensure you don’t infringe on any copyrights, have you ever thought about how you’re protecting your creative ideas?
There’s been a number of high-profile cases recently with both big and small businesses hitting the headlines over stolen ideas. Most recently Zara came under fire for ‘stealing’ illustrated badges and placing them across their clothing ranges, something which led many to claim they were boycotting the retail giant in favour of supporting lesser known talent.
While there is no such thing as an original idea, there is a difference between outright copying someone and taking inspiration. To help you keep your creative ideas safe from copycats and avoid accidentally copying someone else’s ideas too, we’ve spoken to the experts at Taylor Rose TTKW for their advice.

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Record your Idea
Most of us turn to our notebooks whenever we have a light bulb moment, but keeping detailed records of your idea from the start can help to protect you if you ever have anyone question you over property ownership.
You should detail and record every aspect of your idea. Drawings, descriptions, plans and any other records you keep of your idea and its development should be kept in a safe place. The more information you gather, the more evidence you have of when it started and how it’s developed.
Don’t Discuss It
It can be tempting to shout from the rooftops when you’ve had a great idea, but avoid the temptation to do so. This can be tricky if you run an office with an open communication policy. However, some things are best kept secret until they are fully off the ground.
Be wary of who you trust in the initial stages with vital information. You should also avoid discussing your idea in the public domain until you’ve secured the rights to it and your trademark application has been approved.

 

Apply for protection

Some protections are automatically granted such as copyrights and design rights. However, you need to apply for trademarks, registered designs and patents. Registering a design protects the appearance of your product whilst a patent protects the invention and product itself.
Applying for a trademark is one of the best ways to protect yourself from intellectual property theft and one of the most common intellectual protection methods. A trademark is defined as a ‘symbol, word, or words legally registered or established by use as representing a company or product’.
Steer Clear of Google
‘Google it’ is one of the most common phrases used in everyday life. If we have a query, then Google will always have the answer. However, when it comes to searching for imagery, don’t even bother looking on Google. And whatever you do, DO NOT copy and paste an image into your work.
Most people believe that everything on Google is free to use but this couldn’t be much further from the truth. Just because there aren’t any watermarks or price tags on the photos doesn’t mean they are free to use. There are plenty of sites which offer stock images both free and charged such as Clickasnap where you can get high quality images that won’t get you into trouble.

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Check Creative Licenses
Don’t just take someone’s word for it that you’re able to use an asset. If you’re completing work on behalf of a client, then it’s your responsibility to ensure that any licences or legalities associated with the work you created are in place.
This means you’ll need to check you have the rights to the images, typeface and design licences and ensure you are able to use them in your work and in the context you wish to use. It can also be worth checking whether you are able to use those assets in different countries and in which formats they can be used. Some pieces of work may only be available for use in print, whereas some may be used in both print and online.
While protecting your intellectual property can be both timely and costly, when it comes to keeping your ideas safe and yourself out of trouble you really cannot put a value on it.

Article courtesy of Taylor Rose TTKW

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