There are various ways to protect different types of IP including confidentiality and intellectual property rights. Some rights have to be registered to be effective, others arise automatically. Essentially, intellectual property rights such as copyright, patents, design rights, and trademarks can be viewed like any other property right. They allow the creators or owners of IP to benefit from their work or from their investment in a creation by giving them control over how their property is used.
Confidentiality is the first step of protection and is the best way to protect ideas and know-how. Disclosing an idea might lead to your idea being stolen, additionally, it can affect the patentability of an invention. It is important to have non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in place if you have to disclose information to any third party about your idea, including individual from a company, a member of another research group, someone from another institution, or even a friend or relative. It does not matter how informal a conversation or meeting may seem. You must always consider the nature of the information you are disclosing and whether, in the circumstances, it is appropriate to disclose. You can request an confidentiality agreement through our Self Service portal by clicking on NDA.
There is also, of course, a natural desire to publish and discuss work openly (e.g. presenting in a conference). If you disclose the key information about your invention or design whether at a conference or elsewhere, it can stop you getting IP protection, and in some cases where the IP was created as a result of a collaboration can be a breach of contract (depending on confidentiality provisions in the agreement).
The KTC team at the University of Reading will be able to help you with identifying the type of IP you have created and advise you on the best way to protect it. Please contact the BRM in your school and they will be able to advise you further.
The first stage of protection is to complete an Invention Disclosure form at IDF (Login using ASML authentication and you will be able to complete the form), which is a dated form that can be used to prove the date you created the IP in question.