I have been doing a lot of research lately into protecting your design work and have come across some sites which you may find useful. One of the frustrating things I have found is how much it can cost to try and protect your work, even if you manage to get official protection in your own country that often doesn’t cover other countries, which again will be an additional cost. For example to apply to register a trademark in several classes, in fees to the patent office alone (without solicitors fees if you choose to use one) can cost from several hundreds to over a thousand pounds and that is just for one country.

There are of course the government Intellectual property sites which have some information to help you:

The UK Intellectual Property Office
The US Patent and Trademark Office

There are many different ways you can protect your work – the simplest being copyright, which you automatically own on producing a work of art. In the US you can officially register copyright, but currently in the UK this option is not available, so if you want some way of proving the date of creation of a piece of work you can either get someone like a solicitor, or bank to stamp and date your work or use one of the unofficial copyright registers

You can also register designs (the look colour, design and shape) which again you can find out more about through your country’s intellectual property office but there are several other sites you may find useful –

ACID
“ACID (Anti Copying In Design) is a membership trade organisation, set up as a round table action group in 1996, by designers for designers – now a hard-hitting “not for profit” trade organisation created to combat the growing threats of plagiarism in the design and creative industries.”

Own-IT
I wish I had found this site a long time ago it has loads of useful information including podcasts giving you an overview of protecting your design work. Another great resource is the standard forms you can download such as non disclosure forms and copyright assignment. Well worth a look.

Design Protect
Another Site full of legal information on protecting your design work.

Charity at Design adaptations has further information for protecting your creative work