What Is Intellectual Property and How Can It Help Your Business?

Intellectual Property (IP) are the rules and concepts about property – its weight is in the ‘right of exclusion’. The right of exclusion is what allows a person to have private property, like a home or car. What IP does is make someone’s work protected in the same manner. However, the protection is limited because IP protects intangible things, which can be easily copied.


IP is a kind of copyright protection that goes into automatic effect once something is created. IP can be protected in a few ways: through patents, trademarks, copyrights, and service-marks.


Ireland enacted the Intellectual Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act in 1998. One of the most important parts states that “[c]opyright shall be presumed to subsist in a work unless the contrary is proved” (WIPO). This means that rather than absence of evidence there needs to be evidence of absence.  With IP,  everything is assumed to belong to the creator unless specifically stated otherwise. There is also a 15 year non-copyright (sui-generis) for databases – this protects the work stored on a database, both from extraction or use by everyone except the creators of the stored work. Patents in one country do not always transfer to others. For example, the Irish Patents Act provides short term and long term patents which have a maximum term of 10 years (short term) and 20 years (long term). These are good outside of Ireland, but only if the other country also accords the same rights to Irish patents as they do their own.


Everything from domain names to health claims are protected. This is a boon to businesses because IP can be secured in cheap and simple ways, which means that they are not as expensive and time-consuming as getting a copyright using legal representation. Securing IP can be done through a combination of trademarks, patents, and other forms of IP.


There is a downside to depending on IP for protecting part of your business. Due to the fragmented yet cheaper system, sometimes little aspects are forgotten about. One could trademark a business name, a product and even logos, but forget to secure something as simple as a URL. The biggest downfall of IPs is that people are often unprepared. Businesses should double-check everything before the paperwork is turned in.


There are a few kinds of IP protection: patents, copyright, and trademarks.



A patent is awarded for the invention of a process or type of device. The person who files the patent must be the first person to invent or implement that process or device. The inventor gets sole rights to producing it for a short amount of time, which is roughly 20 years. A patent must be filed and subsequently approved.


A copyright is automatic for any creative work. Popular examples are artistic in nature. These may include a photograph, poem, novel, essay, and so on. Copyrights aren’t applied for; they occur automatically. Only the creator has exclusive rights to reproduce that work for period of time.This time period is much much longer than a patent. Copyrights last for 70 to 120 years after the maker dies. The type of copyright and who holds it will impact how long the copyright lasts after death.


A trademark is a sign or symbol of a business. Trademarks do not expire as long as a company is still using them. Trademarks can be logos, slogans, and even colours. If there is a trademark on a particular symbol, colour, and so forth, no one else can use that to represent their business within your area. For example, Verizon has trademarked the colour of red seen on all their branding. Because of this, no phone or internet provider can use that colour as a central element of their advertising or logo. However, a bakery or oil refinery could. Like a patent, a trademark must be filed and subsequently approved.

IP is great for small business. It offers affordable legal protection for companies and creators. It’s important to know how to protect your business image, content, and creations while staying within your budget. exSite does a lot of creating – let us give you a hand.

Back to Journal