Let’s start at the beginning: You have an idea. You need to protect that idea.
The “legal” term for an expression of an idea or concept is Intellectual Property (I.P. for short). I.P. might be a logo, an invention, a design, a song or another intellectual creation. I.P. in a business includes your brand identity and has a value. In some businesses, it is THE value and needs to be protected by its owner.
Trade Marks, Patents, Copyright and Registered Designs are all forms of I.P. protection. Whether you are entitled to receive protection usually depends on availability, for example, whether someone has beaten you to it, or whether you should be able to claim that you have the right to I.P. that has been in the public domain or is public property.
If you are starting out, I.P. protection may be considered to be a luxury, however, you should ask yourself: How integral I.P. is to your business? If it is essential to protect your idea or brand name or if there is a risk that you will lose your first mover advantage – and your business model – then the long term benefits are likely to outweigh the short term burdens.
As a minimum, I would recommend protecting your brand by registering domain name(s) that you feel are most relevant to your business. Don’t forget the alternative suffixes (.co.uk, .com, .net, .co…)!
NOTE: Be aware that simply having any registered I.P. does not guarantee that no-one else will use or copy what you have registered. However, being the registered owner permits you to enforce your rights in and to your I.P. within a legal framework, putting you in a stronger commercial position.
For further reading, I would recommend reviewing the Intellectual Property Office website: www.ipo.gov.uk
Jonathan Abrams is a Media Lawyer at Gregory Abrams Davidson LLP. You can contact him at email@example.com or +44 (0)20 7979 2066.