Types of intellectual property

Common types of intellectual property are:

  • patents
  • trade marks
  • copyright


You can apply for a patent to protect your ideas if it’s a product, process, or new idea. You can’t get a patent for a business method.

You could protect your idea for free by keeping it secret. If you do tell someone, get them to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Trade marks

You don’t have to register a trade mark, but it’s the best way to protect it. To successfully register a trade mark it must be distinctive and not descriptive - it can’t describe your product.


Work that you create may get automatic protection without you needing to apply for it. These types of work include:

  • literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work
  • software, web content and databases

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