IP right comparison table
IP right comparison table

The following IP guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • IP right comparison table
  • What is intellectual property?
  • Intellectual property rights—illustrative example
  • IP comparison tables
  • Relevant legislation
  • How does protection arise?
  • What is protected?
  • Duration of protection
  • Territory
  • Ownership
  • more

This Practice Note compares patents, supplementary protection certificates (SPCs), trade secrets, copyright, database rights, design rights, trade marks and causes of action in passing off by reference to the following factors: how protection arises, what is protected (including, eg originality/novelty requirements), duration of protection, territory, ownership, infringement, defences to infringement, and threats provisions. It then considers the key advantages and disadvantages of each intellectual property (IP) right.

As of exit day (31 January 2020) the UK is no longer an EU Member State. However, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has entered an implementation period, during which it continues to be subject to EU law. This has an impact on this Practice Note. For further guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit—IP rights.

What is intellectual property?

The World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) defines IP as 'creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; design; and symbols, names and images used in commerce'.


A ‘patent’ is a legal right which protects technical innovations, eg a new product or process. The owner of a patent can prevent others from using the invention in a particular territory for a limited period of time. This period of exclusivity is awarded in exchange for disclosure of the invention in the patent document. Patents do not cover what things look like, mere discoveries