COPYRIGHT  /ˈkɒpɪrʌɪt/  noun
the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material

Copyright is generally an unregistrable IP right (though simple registration systems do exist in some territories/regions) which protects any literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work of original skill and labour; computer software most commonly falls to be considered as a literary work protectable by Copyright, for example, whereas films are regarded as artistic works; the existence of Copyright is commonly signified by the © symbol (together with an indication of the year(s) that the Copyright came into existence), but there is no specific regulation on the use of that symbol, like there is for the ® symbol for Trademarks.

For manufacturers, designers, and for industry generally, Copyright is important as it includes provisions for protecting industrial designs, such being (most commonly) designs having some artistic aspects and which are industrialised and/or commercialised. While it is generally always preferable (and advisable) to register any such design, these specific provisions of the Copyright Act (i.e. the Copyright Designs and Patents Act or “CDPA” 1988) are known in our business as “unregistered design right”, and similar rights and provisions now exist in Europe under the European Community Design Regulation. That said, with “Brexit” looming, it remains to be seen whether UK-based designers and designs created in the UK will be continue to be afforded such protection In Europe.

To infringe Copyright (and unregistered design right), as the name suggests, there must be some copying – if there has been no actual copying, then there is no infringement; Copyright does not generally extend to anything which is regarded as more “abstract”, such concepts and ideas, underlying themes, plots, and the like, or any work in which insufficient skill and labour has been expended in creating the work (e.g. a simple word or phrase is not generally regarded as being protectable by Copyright).  Copyright law can be complex, and is certainly very extensive, given the number of various different types of works which fall to be protected under the Copyright Act (i.e. the Copyright Designs and Patents Act or “CDPA” 1988), and we will of course be happy to advise any specific Copyright or unregistered design right issue you may have.