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What is Intellectual Property and 3 Key Issues About It
Intellectual property includes patents, copyrights, trademarks, design rights and registered designs. Some intellectual property rights (such as patents, trademarks and registered designs) need a formal procedure of registration by the owner to the Office of Intellectual Property, in order to grant protection and monopoly rights to the owner. Others, such as copyright and design rights, arise automatically with creation, but do not protect against independent third-party creation – only against copying.
Of course, the intellectual property rights protect only the expression of the ideas, not the ideas themselves, as a first step it is important that appropriate confidentiality provisions are established, in order to ensure that the discussions during the various parties at the very beginning, are protected. and not revealed.
IP rights differ in terms of duration and procedures, but the effect is to ensure that the owner has the exclusive right to use and decide how these rights are used and exploited and to prevent anyone else from using those rights.
Patents protect an invention that is new, innovative and has industrial application. This, in turn, allows the patent owner to use the invention to optimize its business processes, gain a competitive advantage or increase its revenue, by licensing or selling the patent to a third party.
Copyright protects original literary works (such as instruction manuals, computer software) dramatic, musical or artistic works (such as logos, maps, technical drawings, diagrams, photographs, architectural works). The copyright owner is the first author of the copyrighted work. Therefore, if you hire consultants or subcontractors to write a report or conduct a survey or produce your website or software that is copyrighted by the party that owns the copyright, even if you have paid for it. However, copyright does not protect ideas.
A trademark is a mark that can distinguish the goods or services of one trader from those of another. A sign includes words, logos, images, or a combination of these. A mark to be registered must be unique, non-deceptive and not identical or similar to any prior marks for the same goods or similar services. Remember that simply registering your company in the Companies House does not guarantee you trademark protection. Also, if you have a website, it is recommended to consider registering the trademark as a domain name and vice versa.
A registered design is a monopoly right over the appearance of the product in whole or in part, arising from characteristics of lines, contours, colors, shape, texture, materials of the product or its decoration. The design must be new and have an individual character.
On the other hand, Design Right applies to original designs, unconventional designs of shape or configuration of products. No registration is required and third parties are denied copyrights, without the owner’s permission.
A business must always be aware of when and how intellectual property is created, in order to take all the necessary steps to protect and utilize it. This means that employment contracts should contain appropriate provisions, those dealing with the creation of intellectual property and commissioned work should be protected by appropriate contracts, granting the intellectual property to the business commissioning the work.
But once a business has identified its intellectual property, what should it do next?
1. A business must manage its intellectual property portfolio
• Intellectual property, as we have seen, consists of different rights and can be expensive to maintain and protect. In an economic recession, it is essential to examine the strategy underlying an intellectual property portfolio, in order to maximize its value and save costs.
• A business must conduct a review and decide whether it is necessary to keep all patent records, trademarks, domain names and registered designs and consider the potential to abandon any records that are incidental to the needs of the business, or that are not economical to maintain.
• Even when certain intellectual property assets may not have direct value to the business, they can still be licensed or assigned to third parties, for a significant fee.
2. Capture and maximize value
• The knowledge, ideas and confidential information of the business are valuable assets, often created at a significant cost to the business. Establishing and enforcing effective policies to capture and retain innovative ideas, trade secrets and inventions can often lead to improved business value and direct commercial benefits, which are especially important in a more financially challenging environment.
• Filing patents may also be possible, which adds further tangible value.
• It is also important to maintain a contractual and policy framework to guard against misuse of intellectual property rights by staff members, particularly departing employees, who may have access to software code, customer lists or research and development materials.
3. Monitor the violation and enforcement of your rights
• Infringement of intellectual property or other unauthorized use may severely affect their value and business value. It is important to examine the existing systems, monitor violations (for example, trademark protection services) and examine the strategy for taking measures against violators.
• Taking proactive steps to enforce your intellectual property rights may also create an opportunity to recover lost licensing revenue through settlement or damages. Conversely, failure to take action to prevent and address intellectual property infringement may result in the loss of licensing fees and royalties.
• Similarly, being aware of your competitors’ intellectual property assets and implementing approval policies for new products or services helps prevent unwanted and costly infringement claims.
This article is intended for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice.
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