While it is common for many businesses and entrepreneurs to use intellectual property (IP) notices, such as copyright, trademarks and confidential information, there is no statutory requirement to do so.

However, the benefits of using an IP notice include the fact that it acts as a warning to potential infringers that your goods or information is protected and also it may help you if you bring a legal claim against an infringer.


A copyright notice often appears in the following form – © XYZ Limited, all rights reserved.

Under UK law, provided a “work” satisfies the relevant legal requirements, it will automatically attract copyright protection. There is no need to take any step e.g. registration, to obtain the protection legally. However, there are a number of potential benefits in using a copyright notice, including the following:

  • The notice serves as a warning or reminder to anyone using the work that copyright exists and that action may be taken if a third party makes unauthorised use of the work
  • The inclusion of the notice may be of evidential use to a copyright owner in an infringement case
  • The use of a notice will make it more difficult for an infringer to defend a claim by the copyright owner that they did not know about the existence of copyright
  • The existence of the notice may make it easier for criminal proceedings to be brought against the infringer


Unregistered trademarks

The use of the word “trademark” or more commonly the “TM” symbol puts third parties on notice that the mark is used in a trade mark sense.

Registered trademarks

With registered trademarks, the use of an IP notice may assist in obtaining a criminal conviction against infringement. The usual format of the notice is as follows:

[Mark][Registered trade mark or ®]or [Trade mark or TM] [Name of trade mark owner]

Care should be taken when using the words “registered trade mark” or the ® symbol as it is a criminal offence to falsely claim that a trademark is registered.

With trademarks the advantage of using an IP notice include the following:

  • It puts third parties on notice of the rights
  • It will hopefully deter potential infringers
  • It should hopefully enhance a mark’s distinctiveness and its association with its owner, thus potentially increasing its value


To protect know-how under the UK’s laws of confidentiality, the owner of the information should ensure that the information:

  • is disclosed in a way that clearly indicates an obligation of confidence on the recipient; and
  • that information is and remains confidential

Ideally, to ensure that the information remains confidential, it should only be disclosed in accordance to appropriate contractual terms, such as a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), to ensure that there is a binding obligation of confidentiality on the recipient.

Many businesses and business owners do not realise the full potential and value of their IP. Be sure to consider the above notices to ensure the correct protection is in place.

This post was written by Darwin Gray and originally shown on their website here. They are an exhibitor on the FranchiseShow247 Business & Professional services floor. You can visit their FranchiseShow247 exhibition stand here.