What is Intellectual Property and why do you need to legally protect it?
Intellectual property (IP) relates to anything created by an individual. For example, inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, symbols, and similar concepts, which are used commercially.
It is protected by law, which helps the author earn recognition and/or financial gain from what they invent or create. In order for the right balance between the interests of creators and the wider public interest to be achieved, Intellectual property must be accurately protected, so that creativity and innovation can flourish.
What are the types of Intellectual Property that can affect businesses?
Copyright describes the legal rights that creators have over their devised works. Works which are protected by copyright law are numerous and can be in the form of:
- Books, music, paintings, sculpture and films
- Computer programs and databases
- Maps and technical drawings
- Any other creative work that is recorded into a tangible medium
Patents are granted to inventions and other various tangible innovations. It is an exclusive right granted to a creator for their invention. Generally, a patent provides the owner with the right to decide how or if the invention can be used by others. In exchange for this right, the patent owner publishes technical information about the invention publicly available in a document.
Trademarks can be logos, slogans or similar identifiable items which are part of the identity of distinctive products. Trademark laws also cover service marks and trade dress. A trademark is a sign which must clearly identify the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. It is a very old concept, dating back to times when artisans used to put their signature on their creations.
Industrial designs represent the aesthetic aspect of a product. They can possess two or three-dimensional features, such as the shape or surface, as well as patterns, forms, lines and colours.
Geographical indications and appellations of origin are statements used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and/or have qualities, a local reputation or attributes that are essential to that place of origin. For example, a geographical indication that includes the name of the place of origin of the goods, like 'Parma Ham'.
These can be recipes, instructions, production methods, and other knowledge that gives a person or a business a competitive edge but is not readily available to the general public.
Advice when considering a patent for your business
We strongly recommend you seek legal advice before applying for a patent as it can be a complex and costly process. A patent is a legal document that requires specialised skills in order to create an effective draft. Therefore, if you use an attorney, you are more likely to be granted a patent.
Most people would not buy a home without professional help, and yet obtaining a patent is more difficult than that. If your business submits an application that is wrong, it can be impossible to correct once submitted. This will result in a lost opportunity to protect your invention, or that your issued patent is less commercially valuable than it might have been.
IP rights abroad
Arranging for patent, registered design or trademark applications to be filed for your business anywhere in the world is something only an experienced IP attorney can undertake with confidence, as their skills are specifically designed to achieve a positive result. They can produce a very effective international IP strategy that can be vital for a business. Making the right choices is very important.
You should ask yourself the below question when assessing whether to apply for patent protection with the help of an attorney:
- Should you apply for patents only in the countries where products are manufactured?
- Should you instead seek patents only in countries where the products are mostly sold?
- Should you apply for a European patent instead, which can be enforceable in all the member countries?
- Should a select few be sufficient for the client’s purposes?
There are a variety of routes to obtaining IP protection internationally. Your attorney would also be aware of the many IP conventions and treaties available, which can be effectively utilised to your advantage when seeking to obtain IP rights worldwide.
Do I need a lawyer to help me resolve an Intellectual Property dispute?
Intellectual property disputes can often cost businesses and individuals a great deal of revenue and profits. You may want to hire an intellectual property lawyer near you if you seek help with any type of conflict or infringement issue. They can assist you in legal research and deliver custom advice for your particular claim. Also, if you need to prosecute for copyright infringement or appear in court, your lawyer can be available to represent you in these cases too.
As we cannot be experts in every relevant subject, we would love to receive 'guest' articles that may be of interest to anyone running their own business or thinking of doing so. ADD YOUR ARTICLE