UK companies are still failing to protect their intellectual property, more research into the issue has confirmed.

A survey of UK business leaders, by law firm Browne Jacobson, found that over half are unaware of how to safeguard their company name, while 80 per cent have no idea of the financial value of their company's ideas and inventions.

The research, which polled over 220 directors in companies across the UK, found that company directors are systematically failing to act.

Some 55 per cent of directors wrongly believed that registering their company's name with Companies House guaranteed their right to use it and prevented competitors from doing so. Just 45 per cent of directors realised that a trade mark registered with the Patent Office is the only way to safeguard a company's monopoly on its name.

A further quarter of directors (24 per cent) thought that their company would automatically own copyright on all materials produced for them - such as names, branding and logos. Without including an express assignment of copyright in its terms and conditions of sale, a firm has no legal ownership of intellectual assets developed on its behalf.

The report also reveals a cavalier approach to protecting ideas and inventions.

Less than half (48 per cent) of businesses surveyed had clear policies and processes to ensure that intellectual property is legally protected.

A quarter take a sporadic approach, protecting IP on an ad hoc basis, while a similar number do nothing to legally protect IP assets.

An overwhelming 80 per cent of company directors are unaware of the financial value of their company's intellectual property assets.