Intellectual property (IP) law protects the ideas and innovations of developers, authors, inventors and designers.
What is intellectual property?
Intellectual property is the collective term for the rights to intellectual creations such as inventions, software, texts, domain rights, music and trademarks. The best-known IP rights are trademark rights, copyrights and patents. Intellectual property rights give their holders the right to recoup their investments. The purpose of this right is to encourage innovation, resulting in more competition and jobs.
Why it is important to register property rights
It is important to protect and manage your intellectual property. That way you prevent others from benefiting from your creations or inventions without your consent. Entrepreneurs sometimes underestimate the value of their intellectual property. Once your intellectual property has been registered and protected you are no longer exposed to the risk of having it stolen by others. Failing to register could have harmful effects on your company. An example. Imagine a situation where Coca-Cola had not registered its brand name, but another party had done so. In that case Coca-Cola would have had to buy its name or come up with a different one. Since Coca-Cola is a very famous brand, this would have involved a substantial amount of money. That is why it is so important for you to register your intellectual property. Once your name is registered, you are the only one allowed to use this intellectual property.
Protection at European level
Intellectual Property Rights are mainly protected by national laws, but protecting the rights in each individual EU country is a complex and expensive matter. If you do business in more than one EU country, you can save time and money by protecting your intellectual property at European level. You obtain protection in all 28 EU countries with a single registration at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
Some examples of intellectual property rights
Patents protect the invention of a technical process or product.
Copyright protects literary, scientific and artistic publications such as books, films, paintings, music, games, photos and software.
- Related rights
As well as copyrights there are also related rights. These rights protect the efforts and achievements of performing artists, music producers, film producers and broadcasting organisations. The protection is similar to that of copyright, which is why it is given the name ‘related rights’.
Entrepreneurs use a trademark to distinguish their products or services from those of others. Trademarks not only protect the names of products or services, but also logos and product shapes and packagings.
- Drawing and model rights
Drawing and model rights protect the design of two- or three-dimensional consumer items, such as the pattern on wallpaper and textiles or the design of an alarm clock, toy or household appliance.
- Database rights
Database rights can be used to protect computer files consisting of collections of ordered data.
- Trade name rights
Trade name rights protect the name under which a business is conducted. The owner does not need to register the trade name in the commercial register.
- Plant breeder’s rights
Plant breeder’s rights can be used by plant breeders to protect their new plant varieties. These varieties are often produced following a lengthy and costly process.
- Chip rights
Chip rights protect electronic circuits on a computer chip programmed to perform a certain function.
The law determines which exclusive rights are conferred by all property rights. An inventor uses a patent, for example, to determine what others have to pay to use his new technology. The inventor also has the right to prohibit others from earning money from the patented invention. This gives the inventor the time to recoup his investments in the development of the invention.