What is Intellectual Property Law?

Intellectual property very broadly indicates the legal rights which consequence from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic fields. Countries have laws to guard intellectual property for two main reasons. One is to provide statutory expression to the moral and economic rights of creators in their creations in addition to the rights of the public in access to those creations. The second is to encourage, as a deliberate act of Government policy, creativity as well as the dissemination and application of its results and to support fair trading which would contribute to economic in addition to social development.

Generally intellectual property law endeavors at safeguarding creators and other producers of intellectual goods and services by granting them assured time-limited rights to control the use made of those productions. Those rights do not affect to the physical object in which the creation may be embodied but instead to the intellectual creation as such. This property is usually divided into two branches, “industrial property” and “copyright.”

The Convention beginning the World Intellectual Property Organization completed in Stockholm on July 14, 1967 declares that intellectual property shall include rights relating to literary, artistic and scientific works, inventions in all fields of human endeavor, scientific discoveries, industrial designs, trademarks, service marks and commercial names and designations, protection against unfair competition as well as all other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields.

The areas mentioned as literary, artistic and scientific works fit in to the copyright branch of intellectual property. The areas mentioned as performances of performing artists, phonograms as well as broadcasts are frequently called “related rights,” that is, rights related to copyright. The areas referred as inventions, industrial designs, trademarks, service marks and commercial names and designations comprise the industrial property branch of intellectual property. The expression “industrial property” indicates inventions as well as industrial designs. Merely stated, inventions are new solutions to technical problems and industrial designs are aesthetic creations determining the form of industrial products. In addition, industrial property includes trademarks, service marks, commercial names plus designations, including indications of source and appellations of origin and defense against unfair competition.

The World Intellectual Property Organization is one of the particular agencies of the United Nations. The Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization was signed at Stockholm in 1967 and came into force in 1970. Though, the origins of WIPO go back to 1883 and 1886, with the acceptance of the Paris Convention and the Berne Convention correspondingly. Equally of these conventions provided for the establishment of international secretariats and both were placed under the supervision of the Swiss Federal Government. The few officials who were needed to hold out the administration of the two conventions were situated in Berne, Switzerland.

Intellectual Property Protection – A Key to Growth

Globally, the United States is considered one of the healthiest open markets. This open market system allows entrepreneurs, small businesses, and large corporations to bring a vast variety of products and services into the American market. The spoils of success are returned to the share and stake holders of the business because the United States economy is not socialistic in nature. This economic atmosphere fosters an environment where innovation is encouraged and technology progresses daily. However, an issue that many of these businesses face as technology becomes more readily accessible to the average consumer is the protection of intellectual property. The intent of this article is to educate the reader of the importance of intellectual property and reveal the most common forms of protection.

Intellectual Property Issues

Rapid movements towards globalization have slowly transitioned from a domestic problem to an international problem as well. This is important considering “studies in the past decade have estimated that over 50 percent of U.S. exports now depend on some form of intellectual property protection, compared to less than 10 percent 50 years ago” (“Intellectual Property”, 2012, para. 6). These statistics reveal the fact that foreign customers want to learn the technology behind the product regardless of the ethical boundaries in doing so. It also indicates that these economies want to evolve from being an exporter to a competing producer adversely affecting market share of the host company. This action of infringing on other businesses intellectual property rights will often occur without being noticed until the information has already been compromised. The results from this can be detrimental once the safeguarded trade secrets are exposed.

Duffin and Watson (2009) indicated that, “Intellectual property may well be a franchise system’s most important asset” (p. 133). This may include “trademarks, service marks, trade dress, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets” (Duffin & Watson, 2009, p. 1). Dependant on the business function the intellectual property may be the sole means for survival within the market place. When considering expansion many businesses may not move critical portions of the operation into foreign economies. Some firms are so cautious that “some of these elements may have been deliberately withheld from the firm’s patents, in the United States and in the foreign country, in order to prevent other parties from being able to copy its technology” (Branstetter, Fisman, & Foley, 2006, p. 323). The purpose behind this approach is that once a business applies for a patent the business must disclose all the details. This patent then becomes a public record. David Leonhardt (2011) from the New York Times reveals to their readers, regarding such nations as China, that “the exchange rate is not the main problem for American companies hoping to sell more products” but the lack of protection to foreign investors (para. 3).

Newton (2008) stated, “The U.S. Constitution speaks of protecting the writings and discoveries of authors and inventors, and thus the importance of protecting intellectual property is fundamental to the American legal system” (p. 1). The United States has developed various means for entrepreneurs and businesses to protect what they consider as intellectual property. When property rights for businesses are strengthened it will in return “induce more innovation in the global economy, thereby fostering more rapid economic growth” (Branstetter et al., 2006, p. 321). As mentioned, many businesses will invest enormous amounts of resources or delay expansion in an effort to develop strategic plans that will ensure that their trade secrets are safeguarded.

Managing Intellectual Property Rights and Contract Law

Intellectual property rights are by their nature restrictive rights. Rights owners are granted the power to prevent third parties using their intellectual property without their consent. When it comes time for materials in which IP rights subsist to be exploited, it is the law of contract that is called upon to do permit to use the materials, subject to the conditions of contract.

Contract Law

A contract is simply a legally binding agreement. Parties to contract are at liberty to agree to what may take their fancy and the terms that may please them. The law imposes limitations on what may be contracted for when the courts find that an agreement is contrary to public policy or otherwise restricted by statute. With this background, owners of intellectual property are free to agree to deal with intellectual property in any way that they see fit.

Contractual Dealings with Intellectual Property

Dealings with intellectual property take two basic forms. Firstly, intellectual property rights are personal property, which means that they may be assigned to another person, subject to very limited exceptions. An assignment of intellectual this property rights conveys the title to the rights to another person. Far more frequently however these personal rights are licensed to other businesses for a limited purpose or a limited period, in accordance with the particular terms of contract. Amongst many others, movies, music, software, architectural plans, trade marks, designs, patents may be licensed to businesses or the public at large to use them subject to specified conditions and limitations. These licenses, which are in essence permissions, allow the licensee to perform some act in respect to the intellectual property that would otherwise amount to in infringement of the owner’s intellectual property rights.

In the commercial environment contracts allow such dealings to happen.

Copyright Law

Copyright is the palladium of product of the arts, such as manuals, computer programs, commercial documents, leaflets, articles, song lyrics, sound recordings, photographs, film, sound recordings and many others. Businesses that trade using copyright works such as these are entirely reliant granting licenses to their customers on specified terms to trade using their stock in trade.

Contract law allows these companies to restrict and limit use of these copyright works to a fine degree. For instance a photograph might be licensed for use in print media for a set price and electronic media for an entirely different price, or indeed prohibit these uses in their entirety.

Patent Rights

Of all the different types of intellectual property rights, it is patent rights that provide the most extensive and complete monopoly over inventions. Products and processes which are inventive may be patented. As the monopoly rights granted are so extensive, so the bar to surpass for registration is higher than any other form of IP protection. Use of patent rights may be managed in the same way as other intellectual property rights.

Confidential Information and Know-how

A common form of license is that granted by non-disclosure agreements. Non-disclosure agreements are legally binding contracts designed to impose restrictions upon information released to another person, pursuant to the terms recorded by the agreement. In the absence of a non-disclosure agreement, the discloser of information would be left with their rights under the general law to protect the information released from unauthorised disclosure or use. The general law requires a claimant must show that the circumstances of the case justify the court finding that the information (1) retained the requisite quality of confidence, (2) was imparted in circumstances importing an obligation of confidence, and (3) that the information has been misused. Establishing such circumstances requires meticulous preparation of evidence. Thus in the vast majority of cases proving to the satisfaction of a court that trade secrets have been misused is an onerous exercise.

Contract law simplifies this. If it were the case that a contract has imposed obligations of confidence between the parties, the discloser is not simply left with his rights at general law. The non-disclosure agreement imposes separate and independent rights to the general law, and indeed when properly drafted, may far exceed the rights that a claimant would otherwise be left with under the general law. As with other types of contracts, non-disclosure agreements may be framed to allow different types of uses of the information released – what those terms are rely upon what the parties intend to achieve.

What is Intellectual Property and 3 Key Issues About It

Intellectual property comprises patents, copyrights, trademark, design rights and registered designs. Some intellectual property rights (such as Patents, Trade Marks and Registered Designs) need a formal process of registration by the owner to the Intellectual Property Office, in order to afford protection and monopoly rights to the owner. Others, such as copyright and design rights, arise automatically upon creation, but do not protect from a third party’s independent creation – only from copying.

Of course, IP rights, only protect the expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves, as a very first stage it is important that, appropriate confidentiality provisions are put in place, to ensure that discussions during different parties at the very beginning, are protected and not disclosed.

The IP rights differ in terms of duration and procedures, but the effect is to ensure that the owner has the exclusive right to use and decide how those rights are used and exploited and to prevent any other party from using the same rights.

Patents protect an invention that is new, novel and has industrial application. This, in turn, allows the owner of the patent to use the invention to streamline its business processes, gain competitive advantage or increase its revenue, by granting licences or selling the patent to a third party.

Copyright protects original literary works (e.g. instruction manuals, computer programs) dramatic, musical works or artistic works (such as logos, maps, technical drawings, diagrams, photographs, works of architecture). The owner of copyright is the first author of the copyrighted work. So, if you engage consultants or subcontractors to write a report or carry out a survey or produce your website or a piece of software that party’s owns the copyright, even if you have paid for it. However, copyright does not protect ideas.

Trademark is a sign which can distinguish the goods or services of one trader from those of another. A sign includes words, logos, pictures or a combination of these. A sign to be registered must be distinctive, not deceptive and not identical or similar to any earlier marks for the same or similar goods or services. Please remember that, simple registration of your company with the Companies House, does not guarantee you trade mark protection. Also, if you have a website, you may want to consider registering the trade mark as a domain name and vice versa.

A Registered Design is a monopoly right for the appearance of the whole or a part of a product, resulting from the features of lines, contours, colours, shape, texture, materials of the product or its ornamentation. The design must be new and have individual character.

On the other hand, Design Right applies to originals, non-commonplace designs of shape or configuration of products. There is no need for registration and prevents third parties from copyright, without permission of the owner.

A business must be always aware of when and how intellectual property is created, in order to take all the necessary steps for its protection and exploitation. This means that contracts of employment need to have adequate provisions, dealing with creation of intellectual property and commissioned works need to be protected by appropriate contracts, which vest the intellectual property in the business commissioning the work.

How Brand as an Intellectual Property has Led to Corporate Globalisation?

Introduction

Globalisation is referred to as a set of profound material changes that have an impact on relations between societies in the past few decades. The identifiable features of these material changes are witnessed in the development and growth of web, satellite transmission, fibre-optic technology, broadband operations, transnational corporations and the emergence of World Trade Organisation.

Globalisation is transformation of how ideas travel and the nature of their final destination leading to increase in international trade thereby increased competition. Firms expand by penetrating established markets to create new markets for their products. This necessitates them to have identity for them by establishing trademarks by way of branding and keep on administering to create value. While expanding and penetrating newer markets; developing, promoting and performing marketing operations using different trade marks for different countries become costlier. The more the countries a trademark is known, the greater is its value and the greater the need to protect the same by registering at the global level. Trademark registration involves not only higher costs but also procedural constraints while registering the same in every country.

Brands have become part of not only an economic market, but also a metaphorical market because they involve and propagate a system of using signs to control meaning and language as brands fulfils several different economic functions.

Identification: On a basic level, it serves an identification function by associating a product with a company.

Communication: More abstractly, it has an informative function, in that it provides a vehicle for the efficient communication of information, thereby reducing consumer search costs in choosing a product. Signaling: The use of branding in advertising also serves a signaling function, in that, it suggests that a company who is willing to expend a substantial sum on its advertising must have developed a good product. Expression: Lastly, branding also serves an expressive function, in the sense that it links a particular consumer identity or essence with a product.

Mega – branding Strategy

Branding involves not just the product name, advertisements, or the use of a logo, but the core assumptions and beliefs that are conjured up when one thinks of the brand. The best brands were those who could generate a certain psychological feeling about the product. Thus, the “brand essence” moved away from a focus on the product and toward a psychological association of the brand with a certain identity. Today, firms undertake “mega-branding” strategy, in which firms devote a substantial portion of their income towards placing their logo on a variety of different products and events, further amplifying the link between psychological, cultural and corporate association. In this way manufacturers control both supply and demand by manipulating consumer trends through the skilful promotion of the brand.

Brand Plan – A Valuable Management Tool

Brand plan is a crucial step in charting a business route to success. A good brand plan provides an overview of where the brand is, how it plans to position or reposition itself, and how it seeks to achieve its business objectives. A well-prepared and regularly updated brand plan is a valuable management tool that serves variety of purposes. It helps examine the feasibility of taking a brand idea to the market. A written brand plan forces a firm to think through all the key issues – such as the potential demand, the nature of the competition, entry barriers, the unique selling proposition, key employees, relevant technologies and strategic partners, raising funds, projected start-up costs, and the like.

A brand plan is a reference document that provides management with an objective basis for determining whether the brand is on track to meet its goals and objectives with the available resources in a set timeframe. Innovation is very important and critical to the future of the brands. Context, Leadership and core values of the brands are the drivers of innovation. One needs to address “What is the current situation of the brand? What threats for survival might exist?”, “What is the leadership passionate about? What drives the choices, decisions and behaviour in the organisation? How innovation and creativity improve brand? How this can be strengthened to be considered as a global brand? Customer analysis and brainstorming help generate ideas for innovation. Internal sources and customers are the best sources of ideas.