A 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. To get a patent, technical information about the invention must be disclosed to the public in a patent application.
Patents are territorial rights. In general, the exclusive rights are only applicable in the country or region in which a 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.
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.
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.
There are two types of rights under copyright:
– economic rights, which allow the rights owner to derive financial reward from the use of their works by others; and
– moral rights, which protect the non-economic interests of the author.
Most copyright laws state that the rights owner has the economic right to authorize or prevent certain uses in relation to a work or, in some cases, to receive remuneration for the use of their work (such as through collective management). The economic rights owner of a work can prohibit or authorize:
– its reproduction in various forms, such as printed publication or sound recording;
– its public performance, such as in a play or musical work;
– its recording, for example, in the form of compact discs or DVDs;
– its broadcasting, by radio, cable or satellite;
– its translation into other languages; and
– its adaptation, such as a novel into a film screenplay.
Examples of widely recognized moral rights include the right to claim authorship of a work and the right to oppose changes to a work that could harm the creator’s reputation.
A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademarks are protected by intellectual property rights.
At the national/regional level, trademark protection can be obtained through registration, by filing an application for registration with the national/regional trademark office and paying the required fees. At the international level, you have two options: either you can file a trademark application with the trademark office of each country in which you are seeking protection, or you can use WIPO’s Madrid System
In principle, a trademark registration will confer an exclusive right to the use of the registered trademark. This implies that the trademark can be exclusively used by its owner, or licensed to another party for use in return for payment. Registration provides legal certainty and reinforces the position of the right holder, for example, in case of litigation.
The term of trademark registration can vary, but is usually ten years. It can be renewed indefinitely on payment of additional fees. Trademark rights are private rights and protection is enforced through court orders.
A word or a combination of words, letters, and numerals can perfectly constitute a trademark. But trademarks may also consist of drawings, symbols, three-dimensional features such as the shape and packaging of goods, non-visible signs such as sounds or fragrances, or color shades used as distinguishing features – the possibilities are almost limitless.