Guide

Intellectual property

Last updated: 24 March 2017

Protect your intellectual property abroad

Intellectual property rights are territorial - they only give protection in the countries where they are granted or registered. If you only protect your IP in the UK others may be able to use identical or similar brands and innovations abroad without infringing your rights.

If you're planning to export, check that you're not infringing on the IP rights of a company in that country as they may have a product, invention or brand that is very similar to your's.

If you think you may sell your product in the EU, it's best to get legal protection for your product in the EU from the start. This will include cover in the UK.

If you're planning to export outside the EU, you can get advice from:

Export partners

It is important to think about and include confidentiality clauses to protect your IP when negotiating international contracts with your export partners such as agents or distributors. You need to be clear about who owns the rights to brands and trademarks and how they are allowed to use them. Take legal advice when negotiating your international contracts.

Professional help with your application

Getting protection for your intellectual property abroad can be complex, expensive and may be different for each country.

You can advice from Scottish Enterprise or HIE depending on where you are based. It's also worth checking out the IPO website as it gives information on intellectual property for key markets around the world.

You may need the professional advice of an intellectual property specialist. They can advise you on:

  • how to apply
  • the costs involved
  • how long it will take for each country you plan on exporting to

Open to Export also offers guidance on intellectual property abroad.

Get further help and advice from IP governing bodies depending on where you're planning to export:

Intellectual property
Protect your intellectual property abroad