Innovation in manufacturing

Protecting innovative ideas and practices in manufacturing


Your manufacturing innovations are a valuable asset. They can make your business more efficient or set it apart from your competitors. Therefore, it is essential for your business' success to ensure that you:

  • promote innovation across your business
  • protect any innovative ideas and practices you develop

The main tools for protecting original and innovative ideas and practices are intellectual property (IP) rights. These rights include: patents, copyright, designs and trade secrets.

Patents in manufacturing

The main type of protection for a manufactured product or part of a product is the patent. Patents allow you to protect the functional and technical aspects of original products you develop. You can also patent original innovative manufacturing processes. See how to get patent protection for your business.

Copyright in manufacturing

Another way to protect your IP in manufacturing is through copyright, which can be applied to computer software, literary and artistic work. Read about copyright for your business.

Design in manufacturing

Design rights automatically apply to any new appearance for a three-dimensional object you design - you don't have to register them. However, you can also apply for design registration, which gives you extra legal protection. See design right and registration.

For more information on IP rights, see protecting intellectual property.

Trade secrets in manufacturing

Trade secrets cover manufacturing or industrial secrets and commercial secrets. They can protect a wide range of information, for example on:

  • sales and distribution
  • customers and their needs
  • marketing or advertising
  • suppliers and clients
  • manufacturing processes

See more on trade secrets.

You may find it difficult to keep a trade secret confidential within your business. If it is necessary to disclose information (or parts of it) to partners or other people in your business, make sure that everyone involved signs a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).