Williams Powell

British and European Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys

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Intellectual Property is a term used to describe a broad field of sometimes overlapping rights that exist or can be acquired in relation to intellectual creations. These areas include:

Patents 

Patents protect the way that things work. The subject matter of a patent must be novel (that is, not the same as that which is already known) and inventive (that is, not an obvious modification of what is already known). Examples include products (such as a tin-opener, a crane, a fuel injection system, or an electronic circuit), processes (such as a method of preventing rust or a process for preparing a chemical compound), and uses (such as the novel use of an existing product).

It is very important to keep an invention secret until a patent application is filed at a patent office, because otherwise the disclosure may destroy the novelty of the invention and it will not be possible to obtain a valid patent.

We are able to handle all technologies, and have particular strengths in the mechanical, electronic, computer, chemical and biochemical fields.

Trade Marks

Trade marks protect signs which are used to distinguish products or services of traders, i.e. to inform the public of trade origin. These signs are most commonly words such as MARMITE, WORKMATE, KODAK, DYNO-ROD or BLACK HORSE, but can also be logos such as the SHELL sign, shapes such as the COCA-COLA bottle or even smells (such as beer scented darts!).

In order to be protectable, a trade mark must be capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one trader from those of another. This means that a trade mark which is descriptive of the goods, such as TOP POP for a fizzy drink, may be difficult to register. In addition, a trade mark cannot be registered (and in some cases may not even be used) if there is an earlier mark on the register which is the same or similar and which covers the same or similar goods or services, and where the similarity is likely to result in confusion on the part of the public. We can carry out a search to see what is already on the register.

Registered Designs

Registered designs protect the way that things look. Although some protection may arise when a design is created, more extensive protection results from registering the design. Thus it may be advisable to register the design of a product when the appearance of the product is one of the selling points. For example, a registered design may cover the shape of cutlery or of a computer monitor, the pattern on a tablecloth, or the design of a pair of jeans.

In order to be registrable a design must be original. Functional aspects of an article cannot be registered; a patent protects this aspect.

Copyright

Copyright gives protection to prevent the copying of artistic works, including written work (from instruction leaflets to novels), drawings (from industrial blueprints to paintings), film (advertisements to feature films) and photographs. It also protects computer programs (which count as written work).

Copyright arises automatically on creation of the work; it does not need to be registered. It is advisable however to keep copies of versions of the work in order to provide evidence of when the work was created.

We provide the following services in relation to intellectual property:

  • Legal and technical advice, in applying for grant of rights, in enforcing them against infringers, and in defending them against attack.
  • Professional representation before Patent Offices throughout the world, in negotiations with other companies, and in dealings with solicitors, barristers and the Courts.
  • Business advice in relation to technical development, research and innovation, licensing, assessment of legal risks, and risk avoidance.
  • Patent searching including infringement searches for competitors' rights and novelty searches for prior art.
  • Trade Mark searching to clear marks for use or registration and watching services or competing marks in many countries.