Copyright, trademarks and Software

The IP team provides advice on protecting work through copyright and trademarks, and a trademarking service.  This is particularly relevant to people who are developing software, but can be applied to other areas. 

Copyright

Copyright protects original creative works such as music, literary and other artistic materials against unauthorised copying and distribution.  However it can also cover areas such database rights, performance rights and moral rights – which broadly cover the rights of the author to be associated with the work. 

Trademarks

Trademarks developed from maker’s mark and merchant’s marks which have been used for centuries with the first modern legislation appearing in the late 19th century.

If you wish to discuss any issue concerned with copyright or trademarks please contact Dr Jonathan Watkins, Head of Intellectual Property at j.watkins.1@bham.ac.uk or call 0121 414 9090. 

About Copyright

Copyright law has been developed since the creation of the printing press and thus originates in Europe in the 1600s.  It arises automatically on creation of the artistic or literary work though it can be registered in some territories such as the USA and is governed by various treaties around the globe.

These treaties now include:

  • Moral rights concern the right of the author to be associated with works they create
  • Performance rights govern the right of performers to authorise recording of their performance and prevent use of such recordings
  • Database rights cover how a database is structured or otherwise arranged in a methodical or systematic way

Copyright and related works are created daily by staff within the University and the IP team is happy to consider commercial opportunities utilising such works. 

These are typically teaching materials, but are also extended to materials developed for consultancy services and software that may be developed for teaching or Apps.

 About Trademarks

Trademarking developed out of copyright law, and trademarks are often used as a way of protecting a brand.

Trademarking conveys both quality and origin to a brand, and also confers protection against other parties using elements of your branding without your permission.

This allows the innovator to develop the brand and its positioning in the market without cannibalisation from external parties, and so can be a good investment at the early stages of commercialisation.