One significant advantage of intellect property over other goods and services is that the monetary value of its use cannot be established based on some generally accepted prices and rules. Moreover, the value of intellectual property is constantly growing, making it one of the most valuable assets. Registration of intellectual property rights will allow not only reliably protecting your rights, but also increasing the attractiveness of your commercial enterprise for business partners and investors.
Initially, in order to protect your ownership of the intellectual property, you need to determine what types of intellectual property you own. It can be divided into several broad categories:
- Trademarks and design rights.
- Production and trade secrets.
- The objects of patent law.
Each type of intellectual property has its own method for registration and protection.
Main Types of Intellectual Property
As it is noted above, to be able to receive commercial benefits from your intellectual property, you must take appropriate measures to protect it.
Additionally, finding out what kinds of intellectual property you possess will provide you the following benefits:
- Discovering relevant options to determine your copyright protection strategy.
- Identifying potentially new sources of income.
- Gaining valuable knowledge for better managing your intellectual property.
- Orienting your business and operational strategy to strengthen and develop your market position.
Legislation may apply to 4 types of intellectual property.
Copyright is the most common way to protect intellectual property and relate to original artistic, musical, dramatic, and literary works resulting from intellectual efforts or creative abilities. Copyright is commonly used for software, online platforms, booklets, music, videos, books, etc. Please note that copyright can only be creative content, but not a concept, brand, process, working technique, and mathematical doctrine.
The creators of a copyrighted work have the right to prohibit or authorize its performance, broadcast, adaptation, distribution, or retail sales. Also, the copyright can be sold or licensed bringing royalties to the author. According to the treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the copyright term is 50 years after the death of the author. Following the Bern Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and TRIPS agreement, copyright is protected without registration. Nevertheless, there is an opportunity to register copyright in some jurisdictions, the EU, as an example.
Trademarks and design rights
Trademarks are usually registered to protect marketing tools, such as company names, logos, or slogans from third parties or plagiarism. As with patents, the principles of territoriality apply. This means that you must register your trademark in every jurisdiction where you want to have it protected. There are certain supranational options, such as the EU trademark, which covers all EU countries.
There is also the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks, which is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This protects your brand in more than 122 jurisdictions, including the EU, the United States, and the majority of Asian countries. Trademarks are usually valid and can be extended for 10 years. They are also a subject of cancellation if not used for some time. Just as patents, trademarks are also property, and their rights can be sold and licensed.
Production and trade secrets
Sensitive corporate information must also be protected. This may include know-how, customers’ or suppliers’ databases, technological innovations, strategies, and tactics of business development, industrial processes, and much more. All things mentioned above can be classified as trade secrets providing a competitive advantage over other market players. Production and trade secrets can also be certified and become a direct source of income.
Know-how must not be registered to ensure their protection, and therefore, no restrictions on the term of protection, as well as the principle of territoriality, apply. Though, the definition and terms of trade secrets vary from state to state. However, some international standards are outlined in the TRIPS agreement. They include the fact that the information should not be known or available to the public, it should have a certain commercial value, and steps to maintain its confidentiality should be taken( for example, by not disclosing an agreement with business associates, clients, suppliers, vendors or employees, a third party).
The objects of patent law
A patent is the strongest way to protect your intellectual property. But, at the same time, it has the most difficult, expensive, and time-consuming process of obtaining. Patents apply to inventions based on certain operational and technical features of products or procedures.
Patents mean the exclusive rights for usage, selling, and importing of your inventions for a limited time. The term can be from one to fifty years but in most cases it makes sense to obtain a patent for a period of five to twenty years, depending on the jurisdiction or territory. The conditions for granting patents vary from country to country.
For example, the EU takes a stricter approach to patentable inventions where patents are generally not available for software or business processes. While the United States has more flexible legislation and patents for inventions can be obtained easier.
The European Union Patent Office (EPO) requires that the invention is an absolute novelty, i.e. it should not be disclosed to anyone (except as part of confidentiality agreements) prior to the filing date of the application. By contrast, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides a grace period of 12 months before filing a patent application, which can be used to build a defensive strategy.
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