Intellectual Property

Intellectual Asset Management is the process of capturing and managing creativity and knowledge within a business, and fully exploiting it for commercial gain.

An important aspect of Intellectual Asset Management is Intellectual Property - it includes copyright, trade marks, design rights and patents. These can all be protected by statute law which enables monopoly rights including in geographic areas or business sectors.

The most common forms of Intellectual Property are:


Copyright protects creative or artistic works. You should only copy or use a copyright work with the copyright owner's permission. Copyright protects:

  • art; including photographs, technical drawings and so on
  • literature; including novels, instruction manuals, computer programs, song lyrics, newspaper articles, website content, software code and some types of database
  • drama; including dance or mime
  • music
  • layouts used to publish a work, for a book
  • recordings of a work, including sound and film
  • broadcasts of a work

The UK IPO is a government agency that offers considerable self-help information and guidance including videos, IP health-checks and diagnostic tools. Find out more here >

IP Equip is a learning tool that will help you to recognise intellectual property (IP) rights. Start the Copyright module >

Design Right

Design right is a legal right which protects the overall visual appearance of a product. There is the option to register a design which increases the life of protection and like Trade Marks below, protection is country specific.

IP Equip is a learning tool that will help you to recognise intellectual property (IP) rights. Start the Design module >

Trade Mark

A trade mark is a name or logo or sign which can distinguish your goods and services from those of your competitors. A trade mark registration gives you the right to prevent others from using the same (or a confusingly similar name or logo) for the identical or similar goods/services without your consent in a protected country.

IP Equip is a learning tool that will help you to recognise intellectual property (IP) rights.  Start the Trade Mark module>


A patent is a monopoly granted by the government of that country to exclude all others from putting the invention into effect. This would include manufacture, supply or sale. Your invention must satisfy three key criteria;

  • be completely new
  • have an inventive step that is not obvious to someone with knowledge and experience in the subject
  • be capable of being made or used in some kind of industry.

You can also use the IP Equip learning tool to find out more about Patent. Start the Patent module >

Get an instant IP Health Check

Visit the IP Health Check. It will take you through a series of questions and provides a detailed report. Visit the website >

Learn more about other IP matters

You can also watch a short animated video series explaining the different IP rights and how IP can benefit business. Watch now >

To protect IP in other countries will require a business to register the IP with the government of that country but it is recommended that this should only be undertaken with advice from a professionally qualified IP expert.

The one exception to the need to register IP separately in each country is the European Union which enables IP to be registered once, resulting in protection in all the EU countries. For European information, including links to individual countries within the EU, visit

Applying for a Trade Mark or Registered Design through the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). It costs from €850 for a trade mark or €350 for a design. Work is currently underway to create a single patent application. It is expected that this latter option will become available early in 2017.

Further information

If you still have a technical query after following the self help guides above, please contact:

Ewan MacAulay 

HIE's intellectual asset advice and support service

Intellectual asset advice and support can benefit a business in several ways:

  • identify, capture, manage and protect intangible assets
  • maximise brand presence and value
  • inform business strategy or even change the business model
  • drive innovation by identifying new opportunities as well as gaps in current expertise
  • enable the most effective presentation of the company to investors or strategic partners
  • inform strategic plans
  • open opportunities for additional income
  • gain competitive advantage

Who is it for?

This service is available to companies operating in the Highlands and Islands.

How is this service delivered?

HIE employs a full-time Intellectual Assets and Innovation Adviser who can help growth businesses and social enterprises identify the assets they hold and work out how to use them for business advantage.

Advice and help can be through one-to-one meetings, in-house company sessins, or workshops on specific themes such as Finding Your Hidden Value, Boosting Your Brand, and Creating New Revenue Streams.

How much does it cost?

All the advice given to a company by HIE's Intellectual Assets and Innovation Adviser is free of charge and the workshops are also free to attend.

Further information

Email Ewan MacAulay 

Back to innovation page >