Intellectual property rights can be bought and sold and will involve binding contracts. Usually a document trail exists to establish ownership. Rights can also be acquired at the stage that works are created.
If a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, or a film, is created by an employee in the course of employment, the employer is the first owner of copyright subject to any contrary agreement. This will be the case with almost all the work created by employed staff at FE and HE institutions with the college or university owning the copyright in the work created.
At present, if an employee in the UK invents something in the course of their employment, the employer owns the rights to any patent that follows. However, the employee may be entitled to an award of compensation – as long as "the invention or the patent for it (or the combination of both) is … of outstanding benefit to the employer."
The creator of the design is usually the first owner of the intellectual property in a design. Design right automatically protects a design for ten years after the design was first sold or fifteen years after it was created - whichever is earliest. There is no official symbol to show that a design is registered, but it is possible to display the design number on the object or product once it is registered.
Design registration provides considerable benefits, although your design may have some automatic protection under unregistered design right and copyright laws.
If you are the creator of a design, you will probably be regarded as the owner of that design and entitled to apply for design registration. Some exceptions apply, for example where designs are created in the course of employment. The UK law is now (post Intellectual Property Act 2014 amendments to the CDPA) that in the absence of a contract to the contrary, where a design has been commissioned, the designer will be the initial owner of the design, and not the person who commissioned it.
The first owner of a trade mark will generally be the company that first uses the mark, subject to the mark not already being registered by someone else. Copyright ownership will also be relevant where the trade mark originates from a copyright work, such as a novel logo. Copyright ownership can arise automatically or by means of transfer of rights.
Further details are available on the UK government website.