As the Great British Bake Off returns to our screens this week for its Comic relief aperitif, to the delight of a growing band of baking enthusiasts across the country, its eclectic mix of different ingredients continue to deliver a lesson in building a brand.

The remarkable transformation from quaint, guilty pleasure, cult status to big time BBC broadcasting sensation puts it at the head of a growing list of British telly exports tempting the taste buds of a global audience. And as new year health kicks face their most tantalisingly tempting of tests in the face of weeks of indulgent viewing and aspiring attempts at amateur baking, the business of baking, and British TV, has become hot intellectual property. 

There are few more appetizing brands to industry onlookers than the tent based baking extravaganza, that in dough based parlance, has proved exactly how to successfully cultivate and protect a brand with global appeal. 

Cometh the flour, French fancies, and fondants…cometh the, eh, format fine print

But whilst the blockbuster baking show is braced to report yet more record breaking viewing figures, it's less the BBC licking their lips, than the show's indie producer Love Productions who retain rights to the show's IP. With ideas for programmes and formats not directly protected by copyright law, to borrow terminology from the show's most fear inducing round, it's something of a technical challenge, protecting a brand such as the Bake Off.

Unable to copyright the idea, Love Productions can instead define and register each of the various intellectual property ingredients such as the music, graphics or phrases that contribute to the overall flavour of the programme. Understanding, defining and protecting the different elements that are part of the mixture is the path to an IP platform that others will struggle to eat into.

As it has moved from bewildering British bijou to recognised brand in an industry as competitive and copycat as television, with the acquisition of trade marks in relation to the name 'The Great British Bake Off' and subsequent registration extending the scope of protection, Love Productions has sought to protect the unique mixture of IP it has created.

Beyond the baking fanfare therefore, the recipe of understanding your key ingredients to success, and acquiring appropriate trade mark and design protection is one that businesses of a similar nature would do well to effectively grasp. As the baking bug breaks from the Mary Berry demographic, and becomes a national obsession, Love Productions will have as close an eye on their IP protection strategy and its evolution, as Paul and Mary have on the cakes they critique every week.

So, as the cravings for all things sweet start to slip back into our subconscious after January's noble restraint, and the weekly Wednesday temptation, or torture, depending on your disposition and dieting status, returns to our TV screens, it's important to remember that the brilliance of the bake off format, and similar idea driven projects, will be preserved only by intelligent IP strategy.