The IPA registration system does not involve checking the validity, originality, legality or regulatory compliance of the work submitted and the IPA takes no liability for the content of the work being registered or for the accuracy of the IPA records. Neither will registration ensure IP rights are unassailable.
In summary English law provides that copyright will automatically exist in all literary, artistic, musical and dramatic work. Thus copyright will automatically subsist in the designs, drawings and illustrations you present on a pitch. However copyright does not protect ideas or strap lines. It may also be difficult to rely on copyright as a satisfactory remedy in the event material is copied.
Therefore it is worth considering other means to protect intellectual property. There are also steps that should be taken to assist in proving an infringement should the need arise.
There is no sure fast way of preventing ideas or designs from being used by clients determined to copy them. However most situations arise out of ignorance rather than a deliberate attempt to misappropriate agency work.
Thus the following steps are primarily aimed at deterring clients in the first place from using work without consent by reiterating from the outset that the ideas and materials the agency is presenting are confidential and protected. Ultimately if a dispute arises the following steps may also help satisfy the court that the agency ideas and material in question were original and valuable and that this valuable commodity was misappropriated.
Ensure all material submitted is clearly labelled with a copyright sign - ©.
Date all material produced and keep a record of who produced it and conserve all working drafts. With web based designs and ideas it is useful to keep downloaded versions
Consider asking the client to execute a mutual non-disclosure agreement. This means that neither party may disclose to any other third party or internal marketing department the trade secrets, ideas, designs etc of the other. This is the only means of protecting ideas. A draft of such an agreement is attached. It is a mutual agreement so the agency undertakes not to disclose any client information and the use of such an agreement should merely demonstrate the professionalism of the agency.
Consider registering the work and ideas quickly and easily on line with the IPA Pitch Protection Scheme. Click on the link below to record agency details, the client and product or service, ideas and materials, and the key concepts. The agency may then also attach relevant material to the on line registration form.
All registrations then receive an 'IPA certificate of registration' which can be attached to the work submitted on a pitch - thereby reinforcing even further the agencies' rights in the material and putting the client on notice of how seriously this issue is taken.
Note - the IPA registration system does not involve checking the validity, originality, legality or regulatory compliance of the work submitted and registration will not ensure IP rights are unassailable.