MacRoberts is now Morton Fraser MacRoberts. As we embark on this exciting journey, rest assured that we will continue to provide the same exceptional service to our loyal clients. Find out more

A Guide to Doing Business in Scotland Intellectual Property Rights in Scotland

Intellectual property law is largely the same in Scotland as in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Through its previous membership of the European Union, there is also significant harmonisation of IP law between the UK and a large number of other European countries.

Registered Rights

Trade marks

Businesses can register their brand as a UK trade mark. Protection is available for the likes of words, logos, slogans, sounds and colours. A UK trade mark registration can be obtained in as little as four months. Trade mark protection lasts for an initial period of 10 years but registration can be renewed indefinitely upon payment of the renewal fees.


Patents protect inventions, whether processes or products. An invention must be (i) something that can be made or used, (ii) new and (iii) inventive. A patent allows the owner to take legal action against anyone who makes, uses, sells or imports the invention without their permission. Patents are expensive and do take time to be registered. Once granted, and provided renewal fees are paid, a patent can last for up to 20 years.

Registered designs

Designs can be registered in the UK. UK-registered design protects the overall appearance of a product or part of a product, including its shape and decoration. The right applies for up to 25 years provided the registered design is renewed every five years.

Unregistered Rights


Copyright protects a very broad range of works including computer software, books, sound and music recordings and film and television recordings. Copyright protection arises automatically, beginning once a work is created. There is no registration system. Copyright protects against copying, distributing, renting or lending copies, performing, showing or playing a work in public and making an adaptation of the work.

Unregistered trade marks

The owner of an unregistered trade mark may be able to protect the goodwill associated with that mark and prevent others from offering goods and services which use identical or similar names. The owner may do so under the common law of passing off.

Unregistered design rights

Design rights protect the shape or configuration of the whole or part of an article. A design must be original to qualify for protection. Design right automatically protects a design for the earlier of 10 years after it was first sold or 15 years after it was created.

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Database right

Database right is separate to any copyright in a database and protects the investment made in compiling the data information which comprises the database.

Other Intellectual Assets

Domain names

Domain names are contractual rights which arise on their registration with the relevant accredited registrar. Aggrieved brand owners may resort to court action or invoke domain name dispute resolution procedures (such as the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy or for .UK domain names, the Nominet Dispute Resolution Service Policy) to recover domain names which they consider infringe their brand rights.

Confidential information

The law of confidential information protects the unauthorised use of commercially sensitive information, including trade secrets. There are, however, certain requirements that must be met for information to qualify for protection.

Security over intellectual property

It is important to be aware that where security is to be taken over intellectual property rights held by a company in Scotland, Scots law security requirements differ to those elsewhere in the UK.

Infringement and enforcement of intellectual property

Where intellectual property rights are being infringed in the UK, it may be more advantageous to take action against the infringement in the Scottish courts rather than in the courts of other parts of the UK.

Our Awards & Accreditations

  • In 2016, we were one of the first law firms in Scotland to become accredited Living Wage employers.

  • Shortlisted for Firm of the Year at the Scottish Legal Awards 2022.

  • Winners of Corporate & Commercial Team of the Year and Family Law Team of the Year at the Scottish Legal Awards 2020.

  • Our Real Estate team won the Property Team of the Year Award at the British Legal Awards in 2018.

  • Winner of SME of the Year at the Scottish SME Awards 2017, hosted by Scottish Business Insider.

  • Highly Commended for Commercial Team of the Year at the British Legal Awards 2016.

  • In 2019, MacRoberts achieved Cyber Essentials Plus certification, a UK Government entry-level information security standard.

  • MacRoberts holds the ISO 9001:2015 certification for Quality Management, the most widely recognised quality management system standard in the world.

  • Iso 14001 2015 Environmental Management

    MacRoberts holds the ISO14001:2015 certification for Environmental Management, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to environmental awareness.

  • MacRoberts holds the ISO27001:2013 certification for Information Security, an internationally recognised security gold standard.

  • Business continuity is a critical element of the Business Management System at MacRoberts and we hold full accreditation with the ISO 22301:2019.

  • MacRoberts is a member of IP Inclusive, a network of intellectual property professionals working to make our community more equal, diverse and inclusive.

  • We are active members of the PRIME Programme – an organisation that focuses on ensuring a career in law is open to talent from all economic and social backgrounds.

  • MacRoberts supports the Scottish Business Pledge, a values-led partnership between Government and business that is based on boosting productivity and competitiveness through fairness, equality and sustainable employment.

  • We are supporters of the Partnership for Change, a network of organisations and individuals who share a common ambition to improve diversity on boards and in senior leadership.

  • We are a member of the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion (ENEI), a UK-based not-for-profit organisation which helps employers build and maintain diverse teams and inclusive cultures through our membership, training, and consultancy services.

  • MacRoberts was awarded enei's Silver TIDEMark for 2023. TIDE is enei's self-assessment evaluation and benchmarking tool which measures an organisation's overall approach and progress on diversity and inclusion.

  • MacRoberts is a Disability Confident employer, and are committed to disability equality across our firm.

  • MacRoberts fully supports flexible working practices and supports family-friendly working practices.

  • In 2022, MacRoberts received a Bronze Award in Stonewall's Workplace Equality Index for our commitment to LGBTQI+ inclusivity in the workplace.

  • MacRoberts is a longstanding member of Scotland Food & Drink, the leading trade association for Scotland's food and drink industry.

  • MacRoberts is an Associate Member of SELECT, Scotland's largest construction trade association.

MFMac: Morton Fraser MacRoberts
MacRoberts and Morton Fraser have now merged.

You can still contact us as usual, or find out more about Morton Fraser MacRoberts at