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Intellectual Property: Copyright

What is Copyright?

Copyright protects your work and stops others from using it without your permission.

Copyright allows creators of the following types of original work to control how their work is used; literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work; sound recordings, film and broadcasts; and typographical arrangements in a published edition of literary, dramatic or musical work.

There is no need to apply for copyright; under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA), copyright arises automatically as soon as an eligible original work is recorded. The copyright in an original work belongs to its creator, unless they have agreed otherwise or the work is created during employment.

Copyright in literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, and copyright in films, expires 70 years after the death of the work's creator. Copyright in sound recordings and broadcasts expire 50 years after the work is created.

[Taken from An Introduction to Intellectual Property Rights
COBRA Business Information Factsheet: BIF012 · November 2014]

Business Guides On Copyright

Our COBRA resource provides a number of Business Guides on Copyright that you can search for. See below for Business Guides on Copyright you can download:

Business Information Factsheets

  • BIF 12 An Introduction to Intellectual Property Rights
  • BIF 157 A Guide to Using the Copyright of Others
  • BIF 218 A Guide to Using Copyright to Protect Your Work
  • BIF 471 A Guide to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

Business Legal Library

  • LEG027 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

Useful Links

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
Changes to copyright law (IPO)
Protecting Creativity (CLA)

Intellectual Property: Patents

What is a Patent?

Patents protect new inventions; they cover how something works, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made.

They are granted by a patenting authority to the inventor or applicant and they prevent others from making, using, selling and profiting from the invention without permission. In the UK this is done through the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). For protection in Europe you can apply to the European Patent Office (EPO) and further afield to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

For a patent to be granted, the technology or process should fulfill the following conditions:

  • Involve an inventive step
  • Be new and not known anywhere in the world prior to filing
  • Be capable of being used or made in industry

If you have invented something that could be commercially successful and it meets the criteria above you might want to consider applying for a patent.

Business @ The Mitchell can help you search our resources to see if a patent has already been granted.

Related Links

Intellectual Property Office (IPO)
Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
Espacenet Search
How to Apply For A Patent
Choosing A Patent Attorney
Intellectual Property Rights Guide

Searching for Patents

Over 30 million patents have been published world wide and approximately 1 million new ones are published every year.

This makes patents the largest single body of technical information available. It's estimated that around 80% of the information disclosed in patents is never published anywhere else, so it's important to be able to search them.

  • Online databases: GB Espacenet (UK), EP Espacenet (European) and WIPO PatentScope (World)
  • ESPACE® ACCESS is a DVD search tool giving bibliographic data on European patent applications and PCT pamphlets including searchable abstracts in English. The data is fully downloadable. Hyperlinks enable access to complete documents on Espacenet. Links are also available to the International Patent Classification Scheme (IPC) on the World Intellectual Property Organization website.
  • DERWENT WORLD PATENTS INDEX (DWPI) produced by Thomson Scientific, provides access to information from more than 26.3 million patent documents, giving details of over 12.8 million inventions, from 40 patent authorities
  • DERWENT PATENT CITATION INDEX(DPCI), produced by Thomson Scientific, provides access to 54.5 million patent and literature citations found in 5.5 million patent families.
  • INPADOC/FAMILY AND LEGAL STATUS brings together patent families, i.e., all equivalent patents that share common priorities for a particular invention. The patent families contain information on over 50 million patents and 42 million legal status actions.

Intellectual Property: Registered Designs

What are registered designs?

Registered designs protect the appearance of an object in the geographical region in which you register it. The visual appearance of an object can include colour, shape, pattern, texture, material, etc. Registered designs can include clothes, puzzles, furniture and medical equipment.

There are three ways of protecting a design in the UK under the Registered Designs Act 1949 and the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988:

  • Unregistered design right: automatic
  • Design registration
  • Copyright

To be registered a design needs to be new and have individual character. To search if your design is new you can contact:

  • The National Archives which holds hardcopy records for non-textile registered designs prior to January 91 and for textile designs prior to August 89 


Protection usually last for five years with the option of renewing every five years up to a maximum of 25 years. ​​​

Related Links

Intellectual Property Office (IPO)

Registering and Protecting Your Product Designs

A Guide to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988


Intellectual Property: Trademarks

What is a trademark?

A trade mark is a sign, symbol or other distinguishing mark that distinguish the goods or services of one provider from another. They cannot include common surnames, geographical names, registered company names or anything implying royal patronage.

Searching for and registering trademarks

Business @ The Mitchell can find out if a mark is already registered for you using the online MARQUESA subscription database – contact us with any query or visit the library to use this free service.

Once your Trade Mark is registered you must pay a fee every ten years to keep it protected and prove that it has been used in commerce without becoming too generic (ie. Hoover) to renew it.

There are several other online resources where you can search for existing trade marks and register your own:

UK Intellectual Property Office Search for UK trade marks and apply to register a trade mark.

Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) The Trade Marks and Designs Registration of the European Union.

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) The US agency for granting US patents and trade marks

Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks This organisation enables trademark owners the option of protecting the trade mark in several countries with one filing.

Related Links

Google Patents
Intellectual Property Office (IPO)
How to Register a Trade Mark


Intellectual Property Searching

Useful links for Intellectual Property searching.

Patent Searching

Intellectual Property Office


World Intellectual Property Office

Tradmark Searching

Intellectual Property Office

OHIM - Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market - (EU Trade marks)

Madrid agreement (covers many countries)

US Patent and Trade Mark Office

Registered Design Searching

Intellectual Property Office

OHIM - Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market - (EU Designs)

Hague Express

Related Links

IP Equip
PRS for Music

Related Documents

Introduction to IP Resources

Intellectual Property Clinics

In partnership with Creation IP Ltd ​we will be offering a confidential environment for you to discuss your ideas, products, designs and brands with a CIPA (Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys) registered patent attorney.

For dates and times see our Seminars & Workshops page.

To book a free 30 minute appointment, call: 0141 287 2904 or email: