Patents and copyright - what is the protection of intellectual property


Own business is usually one of the most important things in life for an entrepreneur. It is not surprising, therefore, that he cares about the security of the office or production hall, equipping them with alarms, cameras, and sometimes employing security. The care for security is also reflected in the best anti-virus software, complicated passwords for computers and armored cabinets for documents. Since the value of the company is so high that the owner is willing to invest really large sums in its protection, it is worth asking yourself what about its other aspect - intellectual property? Inventions, procedures and know-how, which are often the basis of a company's competitive advantage, are also most often neglected in terms of safety. It is worth changing this state of affairs, not only not to lose, but perhaps also to earn. What is intellectual property protection?

Intellectual property and its types

In order to identify ways of protecting and using intellectual property, it is first of all necessary to determine what is meant by intellectual property. As the name suggests, this concept covers all the products of human reason and imagination. Their value lies in the non-material aspect - an idea, procedure, method - but most often it is recognized in the form of material carriers. What are the products of the human mind? Usually they are works in the field of literature, art, science or industry, although it is impossible to close this catalog - just as it is impossible to limit the human imagination.

The mind of a creative person is a powerful source, and his intellectual property can be of no small value. However, while the right of tangible property can be determined very easily - for example, a vehicle registration certificate or a deed of ownership of real estate is enough - in the case of intellectual property it is difficult to definitively determine and prove who is the author of a particular work. To simplify it a bit, legal acts have been created to protect intellectual property. In Poland, these are mainly four acts - the Act on Combating Unfair Competition of April 16, 1993, the Act on Copyright and Related Rights of February 4, 1994, the Industrial Property Law Act of June 30, 2000 and the Act on the Protection of Databases data from July 27, 2001.

If you follow the division determined by legal acts, intellectual property is protected primarily under the principles of copyright and industrial property.

Copyright law protects works called works. As indicated in art. 1 (1) of the Copyright Act "The subject of copyright is any manifestation of creative activity of an individual nature, established in any form, regardless of value, purpose and manner of expression (work).'

This is the name that is primarily used to describe the works:

  • expressed in words, mathematical symbols, graphic signs (literary, journalistic, scientific, cartographic and computer programs),
  • plastic,
  • photographic,
  • violin makers,
  • industrial design,
  • architectural, architectural and urban planning and urban planning,
  • musical and verbal-musical,
  • stage, stage and music, choreographic and pantomime,
  • audiovisual (including visual and auditory).

What does the terms indicated in the regulations mean? Well, an invention is considered to be a new solution having an inventive step and suitable for an industrial solution. New - that is, those that were not made available to the public before the date of notification, in the form of an oral or written description, by use, disclosure or in any other way. The inventive step determines whether the invention results directly from the state of the art, while industrial application indicates that the discovery can produce a product or method in any industry, not excluding agriculture.

A utility model is defined as a new and useful solution of a technical nature, concerning the shape, structure or combination of an object with a permanent form. A utility model can be considered useful, thanks to which a goal of practical importance for the production or use of products can be achieved. On the other hand, an industrial design is a new, original and reproducible form of a product, manifested in particular in its shape, surface properties, color, pattern and ornament. As in the case of an invention, an industrial design can be considered new if, before the date of its filing, such a design has not been made public, it has not been previously submitted and registered. Originality, on the other hand, means being clearly distinguishable from known patterns, and it should not be a combination of already known patterns.

Another type of intellectual property is a trademark. Its definition indicates that it is any sign that is presented graphically or can be expressed graphically. The mark is used to distinguish the goods of one enterprise from the same type of goods of other enterprises. According to the act, the trademark is usually a word, drawing, color composition, spatial form, melody or other sound signal.

According to the Act, geographical indications are word marks referring directly or indirectly to the name of a place, town, region or country, which identify the goods as originating in that area, if certain quality, good opinion or other characteristics of the goods are attributed primarily to the geographical origin of the goods. .

The last basic type of intellectual property defined by industrial law is integrated circuit topography. It is a solution consisting in freely expressed, spatial arrangement of elements, at least one of which is an active element, and of all or part of the connections of an integrated circuit. On the other hand, an integrated circuit is a single- or multi-layer three-dimensional product, made of elements of semiconductor material forming a continuous layer, their conductive interconnections and insulating areas, inseparably coupled with each other in order to perform electronic functions.

Intellectual property in the company - how to protect it?

It turns out that even a small company may have intellectual property that is worth protecting. An innovative method of production, innovative use of a procedure or machine can become the beginning of development towards a really large enterprise - so it is worth appropriately securing your own ideas at the beginning.

Intellectual property can be protected in two ways. The first is to obtain an exclusive right, based on the previously indicated provisions. The second, not based on regulations, allows for protection in the form of the so-called latent knowledge.

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Intellectual property protection - exclusive right

Starting again with the works, the first method of preventing the use of company property is copyrights. The good news is that in this case there is no need to complete any formalities - the work is automatically protected from the moment it is established. Therefore, if an unauthorized person starts using the work, the author will have the full right to pursue his claim in court. At this point, however, it is worth remembering that it will be necessary to prove your own authorship and the date of its creation. If you create something really valuable, it is worth taking care of such evidence in advance, so that you can be secured in the event of proceedings.

In the case of an invention, legal protection is granted by means of a patent. To get it, you have to face a fairly demanding legal procedure. At the beginning, the invention should be submitted to the appropriate office (in the case of applying for a Polish patent, it will be the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland). In this case, it will be necessary to apply for a patent, a description of the invention and its abbreviation, as well as a patent or patent claims. After examining the application, the inventor is granted a patent - that is, the right to exclusive use of the invention for commercial or professional purposes throughout the territory of Poland. The patent will be valid for the next 20 years.

Utility models are protected by the so-called protection law. The procedure for obtaining such protection is analogous to applying for a patent, but in this case the term of the law will be 10 years. Similarly to utility models, trademarks are also covered by the protection law. The period of protection also in this case is, as a rule, 10 years, however, it may be extended for further ten-year periods. When an item becomes a trademark, this can be identified by the ® symbol next to it.

In the case of an industrial design, protection is called a registration right, and in order to obtain it, it is necessary to submit an application, an illustration and a description explaining the illustration of the design. Protection is provided for max. 25 years, with this period divided into shorter, five-year sections. Similarly, geographical indications are protected by virtue of the right under registration, although in their case the automatic expiry of protection takes place in the event of an event related to the moment of expiry under the Act. Integrated circuit topographies, which are also subject to the registration right, expire 15 years after their establishment, unless the period for which the right was granted or they were used for commercial purposes expires earlier.

Intellectual property protection - implicit knowledge

Legal methods of intellectual property protection give full security to their owner, but they have a certain disadvantage. The point here is that they are not permanent - they expire over time or because of the place where they are valid. Therefore, it is worth paying attention to the alternative solution, which is implicit knowledge.

In this case, the entrepreneur does not have to meet formal requirements in order to obtain protection, nor does he have to worry about the passage of time. On the other hand, his duties will include making every effort to ensure that procedures or innovations valuable to the company do not come to light.

How to earn money on intellectual property?

Taking care of the protection of intellectual property in the company is a reasonable move, thanks to which, in the event of an unlawful use of an idea, the company can pursue its right to court. If she succeeds, the compensation often amounts to exorbitant amounts.

However, patents and protection rights also offer another way of earning money, without the need to hire attorneys. Patented inventions may not be used by anyone other than the creator - unless the creator agrees. And if such consent is granted, it is most often done in the form of a paid license - that is, in the form of borrowing a technology, invention or work. In a situation where the protected property is so innovative and valuable that its lack may significantly hinder or slow down the development and functioning of competing companies, cooperation on the basis of a license may bring the author considerable profits.

Intellectual property in the company is therefore not what the entrepreneur and his employees have in their heads, but everything that they managed to create thanks to their own knowledge and skills. It is worth ensuring that your works, inventions and other unique works are carefully protected.