The Ideas Workshop – Comment by Iain Colville of Wright Hassall

We caught up with Iain Colville, the Technology and Intellectual Property Disputes lawyer of Wright Hassall who tells us more about the Ideas Workshop they are offering.


The Ideas Workshop

In this series of top tips for Tech Startups, we take a first look inside the Ideas Workshop.

Just as most workshops or tool-sheds hold many different tools and each one is perfect for a different job, the law protects different types of ideas in different ways. Let’s take a look around.


We start amongst the everyday tools, like screwdrivers and tape measures, which are necessary for almost every job. Almost every business will want to make a name for themselves and their products or services.

Branding belongs principally to the party who is using it. As a business begins to trade, it starts to generate goodwill and reputation in its branding and an unregistered form of brand protection. Stronger, more easily enforceable, rights can be obtained by registering trade marks.   

Code and other creative output

Next, there are the tools which are used very regularly but require a little more skill.  Most start ups in the digital economy will involve the writing of code as well as the creation (or use) of other forms of creative output such as graphics, animation, recorded sounds or music, written text and data.

All of these are protected automatically by copyright once an original idea is expressed or recorded in some way. The ‘author’ or creator of the work in question will be the first owner of the copyright, unless they are an employee or agree by contract that the rights belong to someone else.

Inventive technology with a real world impact

Our workshop also has specialist power tools which can fraught with danger in the absence of a trained guide. This is the case with innovative technology as long as it has some practical outworking in the world of ‘bricks and mortar’, and which may be protected by applying for a patent.

Very importantly, the potential to patent an invention can be lost if the details of the invention are shared publically or without a confidentiality agreement.

There are other specialist tools too, lurking towards the back of the shed, which not everyone needs to use. Only those businesses that makes or involves a physical product, will need to know about product designs protection. Similarly, you’ll only need to understand database rights if you are extracting or creating large databases.

In our next article, we’ll look at how to ensure you keep your hands on the output of your hard work.

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