In a past article we talked about patents: what they are, what can they be used for, how they are written, why are they so important. Despite their relevance, patents are not the only IPR type that companies can exploit. Here are other ways to protect intellectual property:
- Copyright: it protects original works of authorship realised in a tangible form of expression, e.g., paintings, music, computer programs, books, movies. Originality means that the author’s work is created independently and with a minimal degree of creativity. Copyright is granted as soon as the work is fixed and it lasts for the entire life of the author plus seventy years after his/her death.
- Trademarks: signs capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. In concrete terms trademarks can be a word or a combination of words, letters, numerals, drawings, symbols, but also non-visible signs such as sounds or fragrances. A trademark registration will usually confer an enterprise the exclusive right to the use of the registered trademark for a limited period of ten years.
- Industrial designs: they protect the appearance of a product, resulting from attributes such as its shape, colours or materials. This means that the owner of a registered industrial design has the right to prevent third parties from making, selling or importing articles for commercial purposes bearing or embodying a design which is a copy of the protected design. The duration of industrial design rights varies from country to country, but is usually10 years.
- Trade secret: intellectual property rights on confidential information which may be sold or licensed. Such information must be: commercially valuable; known only to a limited group of persons; subject to reasonable protective steps to keep it secret, including the use of confidentiality agreements for business partners and employees. Despite its protective power, a trade secret cannot be used to stop others from using the same technical or commercial information, if they acquired or developed it independently through their own R&D, reverse engineering or marketing analysis, etc.
The IPR4SC team strongly believes that European companies would benefit by a better comprehension of the various intellectual property protection mechanisms. If you want to know more about it, stay with us!