What is intellectual property?

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) defines intellectual property as “creations of the mind” like literary works, art, design, inventions, names, images, etc. Some of the mentioned “creations” are automatically protected as intellectual property and as such, prohibited from being used, sold or distributed without the rights owner’s permission. Other “creations”, however, are protected as intellectual property only after approval of application for their registration.

How and where you can register intellectual property?

If you want to protect “creations” such as product/brand names, company logos, jingles, appearance of a product (shape, colour, patterns, etc.) or invention, you need to apply for registration with the Intellectual Property Office. You can do that either by post or online. Before you apply, however, check which type of protection is the most appropriate for your “creation”. You can find all the necessary information on the Intellectual Property Office’s website but if you still aren’t certain, you are recommended to consult an expert.

Who can own intellectual property?

You can own intellectual property if you are the author of the “creation”, or bought intellectual property rights from the original creator or previous owner. But you can also own intellectual property if you own a brand or product and register a trade mark.

Note that the creator is not always automatically the owner of intellectual property. If the “creation” was developed during working time at the workplace, intellectual property can be claimed by the employer.

What types of intellectual property protection exist?

There are several types of intellectual property protection which are either obtained automatically or through registration such as patents, trade marks and registered designs. Copyright and design right, on the other hand, are automatically protected.

What if someone is using, selling or distributing your intellectual property without your permission?

If someone is using, selling or distributing your intellectual property without your permission, it is up to you to stop them from infringing your intellectual property rights. Before taking any drastic actions such as filing lawsuits, you are advised to contact the other party and ask them to stop infringing your intellectual property. If this doesn’t work, you can take legal action. However, it is usually a lot easier, cheaper and faster to resolve intellectual property disputes through mediation or arbitration.

How long do intellectual property rights last before expiring?

Intellectual property rights don’t last forever. For example, copyright expires 70 years after the author’s death or 70 years after the creation’s release. Patent term, on the other hand, expires after 20 years under condition that you renew your patent after 5th year and pay renewal fees. If you don’t, it expires even sooner.