Intellectual Property (IP) is all around us and affects our everyday lives. IP refers to creations of the mind and includes inventions, designs, software, data, literary and artistic work, images and symbols used in commerce. In today’s knowledge-based economy it is important to protect ideas and information just as you would look after any material possessions. Gaining legal recognition of IP in the form of intellectual property rights (IPR) is a vital part of our ability to use and exploit it. IPR enables people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. For NHS Trusts and research organisations, IPR can provide a basis for collaboration with external partners and can also help attract funding for further research and development. Exploitation of IP can lead to financial reward for both the creator and their employing organisation.
Types of IP include:
- Patents – protect new inventions, such as new or improved products and processes but only for a limited period of time.
- Trademarks – protect signs and branding.
- Designs – protect the appearance of an article.
- Copyright – this is an automatic right that protects literary and artistic works.
- Trade secrets – these cannot be protected in law but can be a valuable source of IP where foolproof means exist to protect against disclosure.
- Know-how – this can often be overlooked as a source of IP but it is important to recognise the importance and value of an individual’s private knowledge.
There is a risk of inadvertently giving away IP through talking openly about it and in NUTH we can assist you in protecting it. In particular, it is important to seek advice on any new idea or knowledge you may have generated prior to disclosing it to anyone outside the Trust.
The Trust does have an IP Policy (available on request) that gives further details how intellectual property is managed and how it affects all staff. The innovation team is experienced in IP matters and is available to assist all members of staff who have any IP questions or concerns.