IP Protection

Intellectual Property Rights or IPR refers to the various rights that exist to safeguard/protect original creations from designs to inventions, to works of literature. They confer ownership and the Rights that come with this.

Some IP rights are automatic, while other have to be registered; the basic idea is the same however, to ensure that a creation is not copied or used without permission and to protect the economic rewards of the creators.  There are 4 distinct types of IPR and they cover their creator and creations in slightly different ways.


Patents are assigned by application to the UK Patent Office, to protect inventions (especially their technical and functional aspects) from being copied, reproduced or sold without the permission of the inventor. It is for a limited amount of time only and ensures that the inventor gets the initial monopoly on their invention/product and the income it may generate. The invention must be new, involve a new development and must be able to be used in any type of industry. The general length of a Patent is 20 years in the UK.


A trademark is defined as a sign which distinguishes one service or product from another trader’s service or product. This sign can be in the form of a logo, words, colour schemes, or slogans. To be eligible to register a sign as a trademark it must be able to be graphically presented i.e. in words or pictures.  If registered as a trademark, any infringements of the creator’s/company’s rights, in the form or copying or misuses for example are then liable for court legal action.


Designs refer to the graphic make up of a product i.e. its lines, colours, shapes, textures. Designs can be protected by three legal rights in the UK.

  • Registered Designs: whereby the right to take legal action against infringements, such as using or modifying all or part of the design are assigned. This kind of Design Right has to be applied for.
  • Unregistered Design Right: This differs in that you do not have to apply for this and it only lasts for a limited period of time, 15 years maximum.
  • Copyright (see below).


Copyright is also a type of IPR. It legislates for the fair use and reproduction of original creations. Anything printed, written or recorded in any format is subject to copyright law from the moment of its creation.

One of the most important functions of Copyright law is to act as a safeguard to originality. Copyright law protects the development of writing, performing and creating whilst enabling access to original copyright material. In this way copyright is essential in ensuring the development and continuation of writing, performing and creating and the existence of economic gain and financial reward for original creators.

While the Niche Vehicle Network is not able to provide advice on protecting your Intellectual Property, a number of our registered members are specialist intellectual property protection firms.  To access their details, please search our Supplier Directory.