Tuesday, 20 August 2013

What is IP? Why do Folk want it? How do they get it? How to learn more?

What is IP?
Intellectual property ("IP") is the umbrella term for the bundle of laws that protect investment in intellectual assets.

OK! What are Intellectual Assets?
These are the things that give one business a competitive advantage over others. They can be grouped into four categories:
  • Brands
  • Designs
  • Technology, and
  • Creative works.
Why do Folk want IP?
If you have spent a fortune on developing a drug or making a film you do not want competitors to counterfeit your medicine or pirate your movie. You want the law to stop them and that is what IP does.  

However, intellectual asset owners do not have it all their way. Consumers and competitors also have interests. The law strikes a balance between those competing interests by limiting the duration, providing exceptions or otherwise restricting your exercise of IP rights ("IPR").

How do you acquire IP?
Some IPR come into being automatically.   Good examples are copyright and the right to bring an action for passing off.   Other IPR such as patents, trade marks or registered designs require registration at the Intellectual Property Office ("IPO") or some other national or intergovernmental IP office.

Tell me more about those IPR
A copyright is the exclusive right to copy, publish, rent, lend, communicate to the public, perform or adapt an original artistic, dramatic, literary or musical work, a broadcast, film or sound recording or typographical arrangement.   That is how the law protects creative output, that is to say the work of artists, authors, broadcasters, composers, computer programmers, film makers, publishers and recording artists.

Passing off is misrepresenting your goods or services as those of another supplier by adopting the same or similar name, trade mark, style of packaging or other presentation.   It is one of the ways the law protects brands.

Patents are monopolies of new inventions which can be either new products or processes.   They are one of several ways in which the law protects new technology.

Trade mark registration is another way of protecting brands.   A word, logo or other sign is registered as a trade mark for specified goods or services with the IPO.   Registration confers the exclusive right to market the specified goods or services under the mark.

A product design can be registered at the IPO if it is new and has individual character.   It is one of the ways the law protects ornamental as opposed to functional designs.

Remember that there are lots of other IPR and this is just an introduction to the IPR that we have discussed.

How can I find out more?
I gave an introductory talk on IP on the 26 June 2013 and you can download my slides and handout here. I am running follow up talks at 4-5 Gray's Inn in London between 16:00 and 18:00 on the following days:

  • 25 Sept 2013 Branding law: trade marks, passing off, geographical indications, domain names etc;
  • 30 Oct 2013  Creative output: copyrights, rights in performances and related rights; and
  • 27 Nov 2013 Technology: patents, trade secrets, design rights, semiconductor topographies, plant breeders' rights etc.
If you want to catch the talk on branding law you have to move fast as we have only 3 places left but there is still room on the other two classes.

Getting in touch
If you have a specific enquiry call me on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form. I can also be contacted through twitter,Facebook, G+, Linkedin and Xing.

Related Articles

Jane Lambert  "Introduction to Trade Marks" 9 Oct 2013
Jane Lambert  "Introduction to Design Law" 10 Oct 2013 London IP and Technology Law

1 comment:

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