Intellectual Property (IP) is a term that is used to describe creations of the mind, such as:
- Things you make, write or produce
- Inventions and ideas
- The design or appearance of products
- Symbols, names and brands
IP exists to help you manage and protect the way your work is represented and enjoyed. It is a legal right to protect your interests as a creative and equally for society to benefit from cultural production.
As a freelancer or someone starting your own business, it’s essential that you recognise the value of your IP. When collaborating with others in all areas of professional practice, consider the ownership and use of IP as an essential part of your business strategy and make sure it forms part of any negotiation.
It can be overwhelming to navigate complex agreements, understand when you register your brand and identify how to protect your business ideas. Read our tips and advice on how best to manage and benefit from the value of your IP.
Tips for collaboration
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the project/purpose/goal?
- Who owns the IP?
- What is the financial agreement, if there is one?
- How long does the agreement last?
- Can anyone else use the created content or is it an exclusive agreement?
- How will all parties benefit?
- What is the long-term benefit of the agreement? Could there be further opportunities?
Tips for contracts
- If you don’t understand what you are about to sign, don’t sign it!
- Always agree something in writing. This does not always involve a formal contract but in any agreement it should be clear on the agreed terms between all parties.
- If you are unclear how to proceed, seek legal advice.
- Always think about what to share, how much to share and when to share it.
Always use a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to keep your invention a secret when talking to others. You can download an NDA template for free from the gov.uk website.
- UK Intellectual Property Office for advice on registering your trademarks, design rights and patents.
- World Intellectual Property Organisation for advice on registering your trademarks, design rights and patents globally.
- The British Library IP Centre offers free one-to-one advice, workshops, webinars for small business and entrepreneurs.
Get advice on pricing, invoicing and selling your work as a designer, maker or artist.
Read our guidance on how to launch and maintain a successful freelance career.