Intellectual property, or IP, is relevant to commercial creations and innovations. These creations and innovations include brand iconography and company names, artistic and photographic work, inventions, designs, and literary works. IP comprises patents, copyright, trade marks, and designs. It is protected by IP law.
Patents can be granted for functional processes and inventions. Whether it’s a car’s smallest component or an entirely new type of vehicle, an idea is potentially patentable if it is ‘new’. A patent protects an invention for up to twenty years; for the duration of the patent it is illegal for anyone other than the patent owner to make, use or sell the invention.
If you have an idea, you might be able to protect it with a patent.
Copyright refers to creative works. It’s an automatic right that protects literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works; films; typographical arrangements; broadcasts; and sound recordings – copyright even protects computer programs. By enforcing copyright, the owner of a creative work can profit from, for e.g., musical compositions, photographs or literary abstracts.
A trade mark protects a company’s brand and helps a company define its corporate image. Trade marks also help companies establish their services or goods as being distinct from competitors’ services or goods (look at Pepsi and Coca-Cola, or Adidas and Nike). Trade marks can even inspire loyalty to a company’s brand. A trade mark can protect, for e.g., company names or company logos.
Registered designs protect the visual appearances of products. The protection afforded by a registered design includes a product’s shape, texture, material and even its colour. Designs help establish a product’s aesthetic appeal, and are especially important if the aesthetic appeal makes the product more commercially attractive than a competitor’s product.
Intellectual property can sometimes seem daunting, but the Business & IP Centre and its partners are here to clarify IP and help solve any IP problems you might encounter.