Intellectual Property (IP) is defined as the creations of the mind such as literary, artistic works, inventions, names and images, among others. This month at SaveMari we will discuss IP and how to go about protecting that which you invent or create.
Intellectual Property is protected by law i.e. patents, copyright and trademarks. These laws enable people to earn financial benefit and get recognition for what they create or invent. The IP system aims to cater for an environment in which creativity and innovation can grow.
IP is vital to an individual or business process and, knowing how to protect an idea or brand name can save a lot of time and money.
We will look at three types of Intellectual Property and these tend to be the most common.
Copyright (or author’s right) is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Work that is covered by copyright generally ranges from books to sculptures and paintings, just to name a few.
Comprehensive lists of works covered by copyright are usually found in legislation. Nevertheless, works commonly protected by copyright throughout the world include:
- Literary works such as novels, poems and plays
- Advertisements and maps
- Computer programs and databases
- Films, musical compositions, and choreography
A trademark is defined as a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from other enterprises. Trademarks are one of the items protected by intellectual property rights.
In principle, a trademark registration will allow or give exclusive rights to the registered trademark. This means that the trademark can be used wholly by its owner, or licensed to another party for use in return for payment. Registration reinforces the position of the rights holder and provides grounds for legal cases if there is a breach or if it is misused.
At regional or national level, trademark protection is or can be obtained through registration by filing for an application for registration with the national/regional trademark. At International level you will generally file a trademark application with the trademark office of each country in which you are seeking protection.
The definition of a patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. It is a product or a process that provides a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. To get a patent, information, usually technical about the invention must be disclosed to the public in a patent application.
Patents are “territorial rights”. The rights are only applicable in the country or region in which a patent has been filed and granted, in accordance with the law of that country or region.
The patent owner has the exclusive right to prevent or stop others from commercially exploiting the original invention. Once an idea or an invention has a patent it means that the invention cannot be commercially made, used, distributed, imported or sold by others without the patent owner's consent.
The concepts that support the protection of ideas and inventions are not new. These laws have been around for several hundred years and are discussed under the broad heading of intellectual property (IP). For IP to work you need to understand what it is, why you want it and what you intend on doing with it.
Ensure that you seek professional advice when you are looking into obtaining Intellectual Property rights. Although it looks simple the answers lie in the detail. IP rights come in various pretexts, and each is a “defensive right” to pursue legal action in the event that a third party infringes those rights.
Additionally, think about why you are investing in protecting you IP because any money spent on protecting your asset is capital that cannot be spent on marketing or production.
Finally, make sure that you keep your idea a secret until you have filed to protect it. Just having a great idea won’t protect your idea and once you share it with someone before you have some form of copyright on it makes it available to anyone, so remember to file a patent application before telling anybody who is not bound by confidence.
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