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Patents and Trademarks

IP Overview

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. IP is protected in law by, for example, patentscopyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and the wider public interest, the IP system aims to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish.

-World Intellectual Property Organization

Types of IP are: patents, trademarks, trade secrets, copyright, industrial designs, and geographical indications.

Patents and Trademarks

Patents - invention, idea, design, process    

A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. Generally speaking, a patent provides the patent owner with the right to decide how - or whether - the invention can be used by others. In exchange for this right, the patent owner makes technical information about the invention publicly available in the published patent document.

 Patent for iPhone


Trademarks - word, phrase, design, sound, color, shape

A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademarks date back to ancient times when artisans used to put their signature or "mark" on their products.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are intellectual property (IP) rights on confidential information which may be sold or licensed.

What qualifies as a trade secret?

In general, to qualify as a trade secret, the information must be:

  • commercially valuable because it is secret,
  • be known only to a limited group of persons, and
  • be subject to reasonable steps taken by the rightful holder of the information to keep it secret, including the use of confidentiality agreements for business partners and employees.

The unauthorized acquisition, use or disclosure of such secret information in a manner contrary to honest commercial practices by others is regarded as an unfair practice and a violation of the trade secret protection.

Copyright

What is copyright?

Copyright (or author’s right) is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.

What can be protected using Copyright?

Exhaustive lists of works covered by copyright are usually not to be found in legislation. Nonetheless, broadly speaking, works commonly protected by copyright throughout the world include:

  • literary works such as novels, poems, plays, reference works, newspaper articles;
  • computer programs, databases;
  • films, musical compositions, and choreography;
  • artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculpture;
  • architecture; and
  • advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.

Copyright protection extends only to expressions, and not to ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such. Copyright may or may not be available for a number of objects such as titles, slogans, or logos, depending on whether they contain sufficient authorship.

Copyright symbol