Skip main navigation

Hurry, only 9 days left to get one year of Unlimited learning for £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

What is IP?

What are the main types of Intellectual Property in the UK, and what do you need to know about them? Read on to find out more.
Magnifying glass highlighting the word copyright in a book
© University of York

Mandatory disclaimer: This information is intended as a guide and not advice. Please speak to an independent legal advisor about your own unique, specific circumstances!

Having an innovative product or service can open markets where none existed before challenging the existing competitive landscape. It allows you to build a new monopoly (even if just for a short while), which will allow you to grow without competition.

But be careful! Innovators who are first to market often have negative experiences and lose money, while followers reap the rewards: benefiting from awareness of the product or service, and introducing revised versions that iron out teething problems and avoid intellectual property issues.

That said, if you have identified sufficient need then the following information is worth reading and considering. There are also some helpful links and a website where you can make your own documents from templates.

Intellectual property (IP) refers to constructs that have been created out of your mind.

IP protection is a mechanism that allows you to protect your ideas from theft, as well as benefit from your creations. Examples include: poetry, songs, designs, logos, inventions, and more!

Ultimately, Intellectual Property is an umbrella term for a number of different ways a person/business can protect their ideas. These include:

Three main types of Intellectual Property in the UK

  • Copyright – a type of IP that typically protects creative and artistic works. It’s free (yay!) and automatic, meaning you immediately have copyright protection as soon as you create something that’s eligible. For example, as soon as I’m finished writing this paragraph, I’ll already have copyright protection for it (you can see this at the bottom of the page).
  • Trademarks – a kind of IP that consists of anything that can be represented (usually graphically) through a recognisable sign, design or expression. Examples of trademarks include: logos, names, shapes, slogans and colours.
  • Patents – if you have an invention that’s new, unique and non-obvious, you might want to protect your invention with a patent.

Intellectual Property: a deep dive

This supplementary video covers a wide range of examples to help you understand IP in all its guises. Although long, it is recommended watching before looking for further advice. The first two sections (bold) in particular will be relevant to everyone; the rest of the video is aimed mostly at University research-led spin-out companies.

  • What is Intellectual Property?
  • Different types of IP and when to use them
  • IP considerations when forming research collaborations
  • Dealing with IP questions asked by Public Funding Bodies
  • IP exploitation

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Be sure to check out the links at the end of the step.

If you’re a student, you can also ask for free legal advice from your institution, such as the Baroness Hale Legal Clinic at the University of York.

© University of York
This article is from the free online

Enterprise: Everybody’s Business

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now