When a member of the public donates to a charity, they trust the charity to spend their money in a responsible way and to consider how to make the best possible impact for patients. This can often involve protecting research discoveries and taking advantage of intellectual property (IP), which stops others from copying their designs or processes without consent or payment.

IP protection falls into four categories:

  • Copyright protects written, dramatic and artistic works, software, films, sounds and broadcasts.
  • Patents protect technical inventions like novel products or processes.
  • Trademarks distinguish the goods and services of one organisation from another.
  • Design rights protect the visual appearance of products.

Patents and trademarks need to be registered, copyrights and design rights do not.

This guidance provides a framework for charities developing their own policies and processes to help them protect their right to IP and to income generated, so that they can use it to fund further vital research.