Can research findings be trademarked in the UK?

research Sep 25, 2023
Person using laptop computer

In the United Kingdom, research findings themselves cannot be trademarked. Trademarks are primarily used to protect names, logos, and slogans associated with goods or services to prevent consumer confusion. Research findings, which are typically data, knowledge, or discoveries generated through scientific inquiry, do not fit within the traditional scope of trademark protection.

However, it's important to note that there are other forms of intellectual property protection available in the UK that may be applicable to research findings, depending on the nature of the findings and their commercial potential. These forms include:

  1. Patents: If research findings lead to a novel and inventive technology or process, it may be possible to obtain a patent to protect the associated inventions. Patents grant exclusive rights to use, make, sell, and license the invention for a specified period. Some research studies involve researchers to work on patented material. Hence, this may sometimes impose restrictions on whether such projects can be shared in conferences or presentations,

  2. Copyright: Original literary, artistic, or scientific works, including research papers and reports, are automatically protected by copyright in the UK as long as they meet the criteria of originality and fixation. Copyright grants the creator exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and adapt the work.

  3. Trade Secrets: Research findings that are kept confidential and provide a competitive advantage may be protected as trade secrets. This typically involves maintaining the information's secrecy within an organization or research team.

  4. Branding and Trademarks for Institutions: While research findings themselves cannot be trademarked, research institutions and universities can use trademarks to protect their names, logos, and associated branding. This helps maintain control over how their brand is used and associated with research outputs.

It's essential to consult with legal experts who specialize in intellectual property law to determine the most appropriate means of protecting specific research findings in the UK. Each case may have unique circumstances, and the choice of protection should align with the nature of the research and its potential commercial applications.