Myth Busting: Intellectual Property (Parts 1 - 6)

May 30, 2014
Welcome to our Intellectual Property Myth Busting Campaign. Over the next two weeks we will be clearing up some of the misconceptions relating to I.P.

1. The image came from the internet and did not have the copyright notice so I must be free to use it.

Images on the internet, even those that do not bear the copyright notice may still be protected by copyright.  Importantly, simply by placing a copyright work on the internet does not extinguish the copyright protection.  There is no obligation in the UK to use © although it is generally a good idea.

2. I commissioned the product/work so I must "own" it and now want to use it as I choose.

The commissioner is not always the owner of the IP rights in the product/work commissioned and so it is best to specify in the contract who is to own the IP rights. As a general rule, the commissioner of a copyright work (think logo, content of material/handbooks, artwork for marketing etc) is not the owner of the work. However, the commissioner of a UK registered or unregistered design is generally the first owner of the commissioned works.

3. I registered my trade mark and so now it will be protected even if I don’t use it.

With a registered trade mark it is important to keep using the mark in a genuine manner and not simply on a “token” basis. This is because a trade mark that has not been used for five years becomes vulnerable to revocation.

4. What does TM actually mean?

It does not mean that the trade mark is registered, although there is a general misconception that it does.  The mark for a registered trade mark is ® and it is a criminal offence to use the ® symbol if your mark is not registered.  However, if your mark has brand significance and you want to show that you recognise that you can use ™ after your mark in the UK.

5. I have created a limited company and so the name is “reserved” as a trade mark

Simply registering a company with a name does not give rights in that name without there being commercial use of the name or a registered trade mark.  Further, a registered company name is not usually enough to justify the infringement of a trade mark.

6. I bought and own a beautiful piece of artwork and am going to exploit it.
A piece of art, for example a painting or sculpture, can be purchased so that you own the physical object but you may not own the copyright.  Ownership of copyright can only be transferred in specific ways and, in the absence of one of those ways being applicable, if you want to exploit the artwork you will need the copyright owner’s permission.

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