Intellectual property

Animation Industry and Intellectual Property

The issues / how is the the animation Industry affected by IP:

  • It will protect the animations – Of course the most important reason for IP in the animation industry is to protect the creator’s work – and to prevent others using it in ways which the creator does not like and prevent other using it commercially. The two main Intellectual properties which are used in the animation industry is Copyright and Trademark – copyright protects other from taking the expression and trademark protects and gives value on merchandise created by the animation industry.
  • ownership of idea / profit made to employer / ideas –  The ownership of the IP can be a confusing and important matter for many. As employees in a design world often the employer is the owner of the IP as the have paid for their work. Freelancers must communicate with their clients (best to have it in a contract) which states what will happen with the IP therefore there is no confusion between who has the IP and what can be used – normally for freelancers the use of their work in their own portfolio is expected but this may not be so if not communicated with the client. Larger cooperation may take ideas or similar work to your own but unless their is efficient evidence then there will be nothing to do. Understanding these things and not being so innocent will protect you in this industry.
  • new technology can be patented – if original and can bring innovation into the animation industry.
  • IP creating larger economic revenues / funding  – license: Many large companies use and exploit their IPs by licensing others to use their work worldwide. This way extra profit is given. In the UK broadcasting and programmes do this often to bring more money into the economy. Animation can also sell their IPs globally to gain that extra profit.
  • Need more awareness – copying and sharing online is done by many and often we don’t even realise whose IP we are infringing. Something as simple as using a video or photograph on a blog or website without their permission (or proper credit to the creator). It often is more relaxed for educational reasons. However the need for awareness in this area is vital to insure work from the animation industry is protected – and to let the public know what they are actual doing. It will control and hopefully prevent others from committing IP infringement.
  • Protects a a style –  Copyrights means that a company or designer are able to keep there style without it being stolen. An original style is important for so many designers — so without the copyright law this could be a real problem. Of course there are some which may take a style / steal a design but then the creator has the proper cause for action to ensure their work stays original.
  • Using the work online – It can be a real issue of people taking your work when online. It is too easy for those to take what isn’t theirs – without permission or consent from the creator. Or to steal another persons idea. This is a major fear for all designers as they want to have their work noticed but not taken by others. Furthermore there are very few ways in which this can be stopped. This can affect both small and large companies / and freelancers. Leaking of ideas or series episodes as an eager audience grabs the information. Small business and freelancers without little funds cannot take everyone to court that infringe their IP rights therefore other measures need to be made – such as invisible watermarks which can identify who the original disrupted of their work is – this way they find out who is the offender and can take the proper action.
  • International right? – When registering and receiving automatic rights in the UK they will often only protect that product within the UK – therefore international rights must be brought and protection may become more difficult for covering a worldwide right – extra fiance needed to do so.
  • Terms and conditions – Photo / design sharing websites have become extremely popular over the last 5 years and rise of people registering for accounts on these sites such as Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr – however the scandal recently about the terms of conditions which express that the website will have the copyright to the work means that members were automatically ticking the terms and condition without reading the fine print (a thing which many people do) these companies with knowledge that most people do not read this, have placed a policy which takes the rights to use images posted on their sites. When some people that did read these terms and conditions made it aware to other members a protest was made. Therefore it is important when creating accounts and uploading software onto these sites that the fine print is read as in any contract as animations could be taken – and the right exploited against the creator’s wishes.
  • Merchandise protect your stuff : Animation has become more than just the animation itself – for many years animated films and series have used the extra profit in selling merchandise, towards target audiences. By using copyright / trademark of these it means that those which counterfeit or use the brand without permission can be prosecuted or taken to court. Merchandise can also be another way to further the brand and reach out to more audiences – by trademarking these products you can make an original and high quality product ( which can add value / more income to the business.)


  • N/A (N/A) ‘Creative Industries Strategy,’ The creative Industry, N/A (Online) Available: (Accessed 31/05/2015)
  • N/A (2011) ‘Response to the independant Review of Intellectual Property and Growth’ Pact, Friday 1st March (Online) Avaliable: (Accessed 01/06/2015)

How it is relevant to me?


If I create an idea, this is not copyrighted. Only when I written down or made proof of it being mine then the story / design etc is protected under copyright. If I take someone elses idea without my knowledge then as long as I can show that their is evidence that can be used to show I didn’t know about that design/ etc can be used to show your innocence – however who ever the judge believes is down to them. If the design or etc, is very large and would have most likely been seen by many people including you then this could show you may have unconsciously copied and made a similar product.  Many creatives often take inspiration from a design or particular style and create work from this. However it is not right to take credit for a style which isn’t your own. Bring enough of your own creativeness to that work. You can take elements but you cannot copy it entirely – have your own personal touches to make it yours. Be original. When making a piece of work which is homage to the maker or very similar to that creators work – I should try and get consent – let them know if you can take it. Get things in writing. By having a paper trail you can use this to show a judge. Furthermore if the person that has given you that consent later changes their minds and decides to press infringement then you still have the paper trail as evidence saying at the time they gave you permission.


When creating a creative piece of work for a client as a freelancer or for a company (an employee) it can some times become confusing over who has what rights. Normally ownership should be stated within a contract – such should be made by lawyers to draft these agreements – so that you know that you can use the work you create how you want as well as the company/client. Otherwise link the ownership to the payment in the invoice there a provisional agreement is made and if you don’t get paid – that way you are protected. (They will only get ownership once you are paid for the work). If you make a logo and give a company all the rights then that logo is an infringement of someone else work then they are the now the owners of that design and have all the IP therefore you are not responsible. Therefore giving them all the rights can protect yourself (obviously don’t do it on purpose) – they may pay you more if they let you keep that responsibility.In a business it is often seen that the employer owns the copyright of the work – even if the designer have the design rights. The IP normally belongs to to the creator until they sell or give their rights away (in the case of a company the employee owns the work created and paid to the creator.) When working for yourself making sure in a contract an understanding of IP to the client – such as your right to put on portfolio and etc. If it is video editing or something similar when the company/ clients photographs, videos or images are given to the client it may need to be made clear whether you can use that work because you could be infringing their copyrights – therefore always put agreements in writing as evidence.

Work placement & entering competitions.

When working for yourself entering work placements for experience or entering competitions for that extra bit of cash is a usual thing however it is important that you read everything before you sign it. In the case of a work placement at a large corporation – they may ask you to fill out and sign a contract which may refuse you from using the work that you create whilst there for portfolio or end of year shows. Therefore make sure that you have fully read and understand the conditions and if possible take it home and read thoroughly. Otherwise read the IP section and if no stated or refused – Ask to add on to the contract if you can put onto showreel. In a competition they can take your copyright when you enter – even if you don’t even win the prize. This could also prevent you from using your own work / putting it up on social platforms and etc. Unless you read the terms and conditions you may not even know. Is the prize money worth the copyright ownership.


  • Sign and date all work
  • paper trail – keep record
  • Use copyright notice (e.g Copyright —- 2015. All rights reserved) – Copyright sign on work
  • Deliberate markings such as watermarks (Client example with invisible watermarks)
  • Ensure you are not infringing somebody else’s copyright – ASK FOR PERMISSION AND GET IT IN WRITING
  • Keep your meetings in a trail -( e.g explain what you talked about in an email (thank you for meeting me, we talked about this… today)
  • Keep the sketchbook and sketches and you can see the creative process.
  • Whenever you upload your work onto your blog put your name / invisible watermark
  • restrict access to your website. You can control your website you will know.
  • Email the person that is infringement of your work and that you may seek legal advice and action – this often will stop them
  • contracts made with clear view of agreements over IP (who gets what – consent to use in portfolio and etc)
  • Trademark – register in line drawings – not colour when you register a shape of a design
  • The more popular you become the harder it will be to trademark.






Get evidence of infringement. Find out who is infringing and where (keep in mind territorial nature of the rights). Evidence of your right e.g design drawings. Keep contemporaneous notes – Instruct solicitors.


Notes taken from BRIFFA Ramsey Monime talk

Intellectual Property

Copyright: Applies to literacy, artistic creations and web content such as computer programs and source codes.(E.g Books, recipes, newspaper headlines, source codes, graphics, photographs, sound, music, films, animation and etc.) The Copyright duration is not forever – for instance an author of a novel, their work is protected for all the author’s life plus 70 years after. After the death of the creator, the work will then pass on to their living relatives – known as ‘right holders’ they have a right under the copyright law to give permission or to refuse it towards certain areas of the work such as broadcasting and turning publications into tv / film adaptions. The creator (and the right holders) also can man how they want their work ‘copied’ if it is copied – e.g in the case of a racist parody made of a comic illustration, the author had a right/ and can act on sueing that person for copying his work in a light he did not approve of – he may not want to be associated with the racist joke that was made from his artwork. The copyright is created as soon as the creator has made their work – they own their copyright to their own work – this can be given away in a contract to employer or client (etc.)

Trademarks: Trademarks are company names, logos, product name, jiggles, colour, shape, words and sounds. Trademarks unlike copyright, lasts forever – however renewed payments may need to be made every ten years (in the UK). You need to register for a trademark. A trademark can give you protection and give a company / creator the right to take legal action against those which use the brand without permission such as counterfeiting. It is a criminal offense to state that your company name / logo etc is trademarked when it isn’t – (unlike any other IP right – where a fine or other settlement is made for infringement – the fraud of a trademark is the only one which can land you in jail.) Trademarks are a good way to create a brand identity which will get a business recognized – for instance the red sole of Louboutin shoes. It can also give the business more credit to clients. “TM” can be used for a company which means ‘not registered as a trademark’. However it is placed because this word needs time before it can be a trademark. For instance a sofa company used the word ‘Comfortable’ – which cannot be trademarked, the TM makes it appears like it is. They can trademark after it becomes associated with that company – it then can be created into a trademark. RTM is used to show that is is registered however more commonly seen as:  ®. This is placed to show the trademark and warn others against using the brand without consent.

Applying for a Trademark: Check that a similar trademark doesn’t already exist on the UKIPO website (intellectual Property database) – also research into other similar brands and logos / products that exist – as they could affect the application and prevent the trademarking of your future logo/ brand etc. You can ask the permission to a trademark holder similar to yours for a letter of consent (which should be used with the application.) Decide what should be trademarked. Pay the fee for the application (around £170) and submit what you wish to register – passing the application / pay for trademark. Can take up to 4 months to register. If you register a trademark in the UK , it will only be protected in the UK – there may be other IP’s or Trademarks that can may be suited better if a desire for a worldwide / EU trademark is required.

Patents: A patent doesn’t really apply to the creative industry (unless for a particular software and the creative concept an idea ) – a patent is used for completely original ideas – normally for inventions, products, and the process of a technical solution to a problem.  Getting a patent can take a long time and can be expensive (even more so if applying for an international Patent.) It generally takes around 3 – 4 years to patent (during this time the product or invention shouldn’t be make public because this could prevent it from being patented – it must stay original). A patent can last 20 years however it is recommended to seek advice from a patent attorney to have those 20 years. A patent will protect the invention or product and enable any legal action to take place if anyone tries to steal it, sells, distributed or anything similar against your permission.  A patent will only protect the product in the country which it was registered – there is an international patent available.

Design rights: The design right, like the copyright is automatically given to the creator – the right will protect the design for 15 years after it was created or 10 years after it is sold for the first time. This right is to ensure that no one will copy the design. Does’t just protect the outside of the design but also the inside of mass produced objects. Generally used for a product like a chair – makes sure that nothing is creates similar to layout and or arrangement of your design. To protect and claim this right you need proof of the design – therefore original sketchbooks, designs, prototypes anything which can be used to show that the design is your own. This can be kept by a solicitor or sent to yourself by unopened stamped dated post. You can sell or give the design right away.

Registered designs: The registered design right will be alot more creditable and easier for proof. Instead of keeping the original sketches and design this is registered and then all which will be needed to prove that the design is rightly yours, would be to give over the registration number. It also gives the creator up to 25 years of rights and protection. This right is used to provide protection for the appearance of a design, the physical shape, the decoration and the configuration.


N/A (2014) ‘Intellectual property and your work’, Wednesday 31st December [online] Avalible: (Accessed 29/05/2015)

Alexandrou, Andria (2013) ‘Trademarks in the UK: helpful tips’ Prime, N/A [Online] Avaliable: (Accessed 31/05/2015)

N/A (N/A) ‘What is Intellectual Property?’ WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization, N/A (Online) Avaliable: (Accessed 01/06/2015)

Notes taken from BRIFFA Ramsay Monime