Intellectual property, commonly abbreviated to IP, is broadly defined as intangible property that can be used in a commercial capacity and generate some form of economic return, such as trademarks, patents, copyrights, trade secrets and trade designs. IP protection can be obtained by any intellectual property owner, individual or company, and can be attained in all countries where the IP is not registered and where it will be used commercially.
Intellectual property protection explained
It should be acknowledged that when seeking protection for your property, whether it be a patent or trademark etc, it must first meet all the necessary requirements as stipulated by the appropriate IP laws and intellectual property registry in your country of domicile.
An attorney specializing in the area of intellectual property law, or a professional consultancy firm, can guide you in registering your trademark or patent and will ensure the property satisfies all prerequisites prior to applying for the registration. Most times, an intellectual property search is performed by an industry professional to ensure that the property you require protection over is available for registration and distinguishable from any other similar marks.
In general, intellectual property must satisfy the follow criterion:
- It should be original and unique, making it capable of distinction amongst competitor properties
- It must be capable of graphical representation (trademarks and design rights)
- Available to register or to use in commerce (not already used by a third party)
- Must be capable of being used in commerce in the future (inventions and ideas under patent law) and have the ability to draw economic return
The scope of intellectual property protection is vast and can be sought for all original and available intangible assets that have the scope to be used in commerce. This extends to inventions, ideas, designs, artistic works, literary works, music, brand names, logos, symbols, to name only a few. The legal protection achieved from registering the property is recognized and enforced under the appropriate laws, thus preventing 3rd parties from passing off or infringing your IP rights.
The standards and registration requirements for intellectual property will typically vary from one jurisdiction to another, and most IP registry offices will stipulate their own registration procedures. It is therefore advised to consult with an attorney or professional consultancy firm to establish the exact measures you must take to achieve IP protection.