The European Federation of Intellectual Property (EFIPWEB) represents over 100 non-governmental and other not-for-profit organisations interested in protection the intellectual property of all europeans.

Visit EFIPWEB website for more information on EFIPWEB and its activities.

The European Federation of Intellectual Property (EFIPWEB) INCLUDES MORE THAN 300 PROGRAMS, covering a wide spectrum of activities. Some highlights include:

  • Set patent protection standards which respond to the needs of the systems users;
  • Maintain its position as a global player in the international patent world, setting a benchmark for best patent practice;
  • As one of the worlds leading providers of technical information, help to promote a knowledge-based society in Europe;
  • Stand out as a model international public-service organisation.

What is intellectual property or IP?

Intellectual property, often known as IP, allows people to own their creativity and innovation in the same way that they can own physical property. The owner of IP can control and be rewarded for its use, and this encourages further innovation and creativity to the benefit of us all.

In some cases IP gives rise to protection for ideas but in other areas there will have to be more elaboration of an idea before protection can arise. It will often not be possible to protect IP and gain IP rights (or IPRs) unless they have been applied for and granted, but some IP protection such as copyright arises automatically, without any registration, as soon as there is a record in some form of what has been created.

The four main types of IP are:

  • patents for inventions – new and improved products and processes that are capable of industrial application;
  • trade marks for brand identity – of goods and services allowing distinctions to be made between different traders;
  • designs for product appearance – of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product itself or its ornamentation;
  • copyright for material – literary and artistic material, music, films, sound recordings and broadcasts, including software and multimedia.


However, IP is much broader than this extending to trade secrets, plant varieties, geographical indications, performers rights and so on. To understand exactly what can be protected by IP, you will need to check the four main areas of copyright, designs, patents and trade marks as well as other IP. Often, more than one type of IP may apply to the same creation.

How do I get protection for my idea/material?

Patents, registered designs and trade marks need to be applied for and you will only get protection if what you have is something that can be protected by these types of IP.

The UK Patent Office accepts applications and grants rights in each of these areas, but patents valid in the UK can also be obtained from The European Patent Office (EPO) and registered trade marks valid in the UK can be obtained from the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM). You should note that for security reasons an application to the EPO has to be cleared by the UK Patent Office first.

Copyright, design right and performers rights are three important unregistered IP rights that you might have. The protection is automatic – there are no fees to pay or forms to fill in. If you have something that is capable of protection in these areas, you may have it even if you do not know it. Even if protection exists, it is sensible to take precautions which are explained more fully under the relevant subject area of IP.

Many things can be protected by more than one type of IP. However, different IP rights give you protection in different ways so you need to check carefully what protection you may already have and what protection you could apply for. Where IP has to be applied for, it is advisable to do this at an early stage – you will not be granted the patent or registered design protection if you have already disclosed it to the public.

Getting advice at an early stage could be very useful. Things that you might need to consider include confidentiality issues, how you might enforce your rights and insurance protection.