Intellectual property: the basics

Different types of intellectual property


Intellectual property (IP) exists in many forms. From the name of your business to an innovative new process or product, IP can help you stand out from your competitors, enhance your market value and turn ideas into profit-making assets.

Examples of intellectual property

Your business may already have a range of IP. IP can be any of the following:

  • brands and logos
  • product names
  • inventions and products
  • original software
  • designs
  • shape and appearance of a product
  • music
  • books
  • poems
  • paintings
  • photography
  • other kinds of creative work

IP can be very valuable and should be protected. The type of IP protection you can get depends on what you have created.

Types of intellectual property rights

There are four main types of IP rights:

  • patents
  • trade marks
  • copyright
  • designs

It is important to understand exactly how these different types of IP rights can apply to your business. Browse our detailed guides on patents, trade marks, copyright and design to find out more about each.

Find out what IP you own

If you own a business, you likely own some type of IP. You can carry out an intellectual property audit to determine what IP assets you have and their value to your business.

To get a better understanding of IP and how to manage it, you can also use the Intellectual Property Office's IP for Business toolkit. It offers:

  • IP Equip tool - covering four main types of IP rights
  • IP Health Check tool - offering a confidential report tailored to your business
  • B2B toolkit - an IP checklist for businesses wishing to collaborate with others
  • IP for investment tool - for IP-rich businesses that are seeking equity finance to grow

You can also watch the IPO's video below to gain a greater understanding of IP basics.

  • IPO Information Centre
    0300 300 2000