banner image

What we do

Delivering expert innovation services to NHS Scotland

Helping you to protect your innovation

Intellectual property (IP) is any piece of original, creative work – for our purposes, an invention, brand or design – that has been successfully developed and can be owned in the same sense as physical property.

Use our quick guide to better understand why IP is important and the different options available. It is important to consult SHIL as early as possible with your idea or innovation to ensure we can protect it.

Without ownership over the IP of something you have created anyone, regardless of permission, can use and adapt that idea. Protecting your IP allows you to manage how it is used, and who uses it. Anything of commercial value should be protected as soon as possible.

These protect new inventions, covering how things work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made. To apply for a patent, your invention must:

  • be new
  • be a progression of a product or idea that is not immediately obvious to someone working in the field of the invention
  • be capable of being made or used in an industry.

Protects creative or artistic work. For the purposes of SHIL and your idea, copyright would be used to protect:

  • computer programs
  • databases
  • technical drawings
  • diagrams
  • logos.

Protects a sign or symbol, such as a logo or a slogan that allows your customers to tell you apart from your competitors. A trademark must be:

  • distinctive for the goods and services you provide
  • not deceptive, or contrary to law or morality.

This makes sure the internal and external configuration of your original design is protected. While this stops others from copying the shape of your product, it does not protect any two-dimensional elements, such as patterns or colouring.

Broadly, this means any form of technical information or assistance relating to the manufacture or construction of a product. It can also relate to any practical knowledge, techniques or skills that are required to physically create or enact your idea, which is considered a type of intangible property.

In general, any confidential information that can give an organisation a competitive edge can be classified as a trade secret: these can encompass manufacturing or industrial secrets and commercial secrets. What is regarded as a trade secret is bespoke to each individual IP case and takes into account the circumstances and type of information being dealt with.

Under UK patent law, the NHS, as their employer, will usually own the intellectual property created by healthcare professionals in the course of their employment or specifically assigned duties. We assist NHS Scotland in managing this IP, to ensure a return on investment for the health service. Any revenue generated from commercialising these ideas and innovations from healthcare professionals is shared with the originator and the health board through a bespoke NHS inventor award scheme as detailed in individual employee contracts and/or health board IP policies.