By the end of this lesson, you will have understood the basics of Intellectual Property and the difference between a trademark, patent and copyright.
Let’s start with the definition!
refers to creations of the intellect for which a monopoly is assigned to designated owners by law.
Intellectual property rights are the protections granted to the creators of Intellectual Property, and include trademarks, copyright, patents, industrial design rights, and in some jurisdictions trade secrets.
Artistic works including music and literature, as well as discoveries, inventions, words, phrases, symbols, and designs can all be protected as intellectual property.
A trademark is a recognizable sign, design, or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others.
Where to file trademarks?
You can usually file a trademark at your country’s Intellectual Property office. It is possible to file a single trademark for all the European Union member states through the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
We will provide you a list of offices in the further readings section of this course.
How to find relevant information about trademarks worldwide?
Check the TMView tool (the EUIPO search tool) to:
• Carry out a trademark search (worldwide)
• Check for the availability of your trademark name
• Discover what your competitors are protecting
(TMView link provided in further readings)
How to protect my trademark during the registration process?
Provided that your trademark filing is accepted, your trademark is retroactively protected from the day you filed it, and if you have trademark issues, your filing date will be the date that counts.
A practical advice is to buy domain names related to your brand name as soon as possible, before “cyber-squatters” do so. It doesn’t protect your brand, but your online presence.
More about cyber-squatting:
Note that the process is long and that another company can oppose your trademark, which makes the process even longer.
It may happen if your name is similar and you provide similar services.
Warning: your contact details for the trademark registration might be public and you might receive some fake invoices (“scam”) asking you to pay a second time
Laurent C., co-founder of People Sports, SL, received a post mail with an invoice after having filed and already paid the registration fees of his trademark within the European Trademark Office (EUIPO). Worried that something had gone wrong with the payment, he wired the “filing fee” to the provided bank account, just to realize a few weeks later that he was receiving many similar letters with a different bank account each time.
is a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention.
An invention is a solution to a specific technological problem and is a product or a process.
Example of a patent: the controversial Amazon’s 1-click patent
This technology allows Amazon to charge the customer on a single click, having saved previously its billing credentials. Amazon owns the patent in the US, but it has been refused twice in Europe. The patent prevents anyone from implementing one single click payment, at least in the US.
More about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1-Click
Copyright is a legal right created by the law of a country that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution.
Who owns the copyright?
The author of the work.
Note: Depending on the country you live in, the work performed by an employee may be owned or not by the company he works for. If not, the company can buy the rights.
How long does a copyright last?
The copyright can still be valid many years after the author’s death (depending on the country).
In most of the world, the default length of copyright is the life of the author plus either 50 or 70 years.
How to apply for a copyright?
In all countries where the Berne Convention standards apply, copyright is automatic, and need not be obtained through official registration with any government office.