Intellectual Property (IP) is classified in 2 categories, Industrial Property and Copyright. Industrial property includes patents for inventions, industrial designs, utility model, trademarks and geographical indications. Copyright or authors’ right, is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have in their literary, artistic and scientific works.
It is important to know the scope of each protection mechanism as well as their conditions and obligations. Not all inventions can be protected.
The Patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. The patent protection prevents the invention to be commercially made, used, distributed, imported or sold by others without the patent holder consent. The rights are only applicable in the country or region in which the patent has been filed and granted, in accordance with the law of that country or region. The protection is granted for a limited period, generally 20 years from the filing date of the application.
The Utility model is one of the intellectual property rights that protects technical solutions with a lower level of inventiveness required than for a patent or for protecting inventions that make small improvements to, and adaptations of, existing products or that have a short commercial life. In some regions they are sometimes referred to as “short-term patents”, “utility innovations” or “innovation patents. In some cases and territories, the utility model could be considered a ‘weak IP’, as it is the mechanism used when the invention does not fulfill the patentability requirements. The protection period is 6 to 10 years.
The Industrial design covers those elements of a product that are aesthetic or ornamental – the way it looks and feels. It may consist of three dimensional features, such as the shape of an article, or two dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or color. The owner of a registered industrial design or of a design patent has the right to prevent third parties from making, selling or importing articles bearing or embodying a design which is a copy, or substantially a copy, of the protected design, when such acts are undertaken for commercial purposes. Depending on the particular national law and the kind of design, industrial designs may also be protected as works of art under copyright law.
A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. It can be a word or a combination of words, letters, and numerals, drawings, symbols, three-dimensional features, non-visible signs such as sounds or fragrances, or color shades used as distinguishing features. The protection period is usually 10 years.
A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. The qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Geographical indications are typically used for agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts, and industrial products. A geographical indication right enables the right holders to use the indication to prevent its use by a third party whose product does not conform to the applicable standards. However, a protected geographical indication does not enable the holder to prevent someone from making a product using the same techniques as those set out in the standards for that indication.
The Copyright relates to literary and artistic creations, such as books, music, paintings and sculptures, films and technology-based works (such as computer programs and electronic databases). The expression copyright refers to the act of copying an original work which, in respect of literary and artistic creations, may be done only by the author or with the author’s permission. The copyright protects two types of rights: The Economic rights allow right owners to derive financial reward from the use of their works by others. The Moral rights allow authors and creators to take certain actions to preserve and protect their link with their work.