Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property covers two main areas:

  • industrial property, covering inventions, trade marks, industrial designs, and protected designations of origin;
  • copyright, represented by literary, musical, artistic, photographic, and audio-visual works.

Intellectual property makes use of the following instruments:

  • patents;
  • utility models;
  • industrial design;
  • trade marks;
  • semiconductor chip protection;
  • plant variety protection;
  • copyright.

The scope of the protection obtained through intellectual property rights varies according to the type of instrument employed. The various instruments available have the following characteristics:

  • Patents and utility models. Technical inventions can be protected by way of either type of industrial property right. In general, inventions should be novel and comprise an inventive step. Furthermore, the invention must be capable of industrial application. A major difference between these two property rights lies in the duration of protection.
  • Industrial design. The aesthetic appearance (design) of an object or specific shape (model), but not the technical invention as such, can be protected by means of a registered design. The subject matter of the industrial design may for instance be the external appearance of an object used in everyday life, but could also be the external form of machines or vehicles.
  • Trade marks (marks). A Mark is used to differentiate a product or a service. Trade marks can be two- or three-dimensional and can be made up of words, pictures, colours, and/or sounds and so forth.
  • Semiconductor chip protection. This instrument covers the protection of the geometrical structure or topography of a semiconductor product such as a microchip. In contrast to patents or utility models, only the geometrical configuration of the microchip is protected, not its technical function nor its technological structure.
  • Plant variety protection. This protection is granted for plant varieties, which are new, distinct, uniform, and stable.
  • Copyright. Copyright covers works of art such as literature, pieces of music, paintings, drawings, films, construction works, and scientific and technical representations. In addition, computer programs, databases, and multimedia products fall under copyright protection. The author of a work of art owns the inherent rights of ownership to his work, and is entitled to exploit it. In contrast to the other types of protection mentioned above, it is not necessary to apply for registration of the work, as the protection arises solely through the act of creation.

Note: In common-law countries, such as the United Kingdom and Ireland within the EU as well as the United States and elsewhere, copyright is the equivalent of author´s rights. Although differences exist between copyright and author´s rights legislation, the general principles of literary and artistic property are respected by both systems.

Although the World Intellectual Property Organization and more significantly the Berne Convention, which contains the universal principles of literary and artistic property, use the term author´s rights, we will use copyright in English-language texts to refer to both author´s rights and copyright except where there is a clear need to distinguish between them.

The most important forms of protection are highlighter here.






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