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A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademarks are protected by intellectual property rights. In principle, a trademark registration will confer an exclusive right to the use of the registered trademark. This implies that the trademark can be exclusively used by its owner, or licensed to another party for use in return for payment. Registration provides legal certainty and reinforces the position of the right holder, for example, in case of litigation.

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A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. To get a patent, technical information about the invention must be disclosed to the public in a patent application.

In principle, the patent owner has the exclusive right to prevent or stop others from commercially exploiting the patented invention. In other words, patent protection means that the invention cannot be commercially made, used, distributed, imported or sold by others without the patent owner's consent.

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Copy Rights

Copyright (or author’s right) is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.

Exhaustive lists of works covered by copyright are usually not to be found in legislation. Nonetheless, broadly speaking, works commonly protected by copyright throughout the world include:

  • literary works such as novels, poems, plays, reference works, newspaper articles;
  • computer programs, databases;
  • films, musical compositions, and choreography;
  • artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculpture;
  • architecture; and
  • advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.

Copyright protection extends only to expressions, and not to ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such. Copyright may or may not be available for a number of objects such as titles, slogans, or logos, depending on whether they contain sufficient authorship.

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Geographical Indications

A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production.

A geographical indication right enables those who have the right to use the indication to prevent its use by a third party whose product does not conform to the applicable standards. For example, in the jurisdictions in which the Darjeeling geographical indication is protected, producers of Darjeeling tea can exclude use of the term “Darjeeling” for tea not grown in their tea gardens or not produced according to the standards set out in the code of practice for the geographical indication.

However, a protected geographical indication does not enable the holder to prevent someone from making a product using the same techniques as those set out in the standards for that indication. Protection for a geographical indication is usually obtained by acquiring a right over the sign that constitutes the indication.

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Industrial Designs

In a legal sense, an industrial design constitutes the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of an article.

An industrial design may consist of three-dimensional features, such as the shape of an article, or two dimensional features, such as patterns, lines or color.

In principle, the owner of a registered industrial design or of a design patent has the right to prevent third parties from making, selling or importing articles bearing or embodying a design which is a copy, or substantially a copy, of the protected design, when such acts are undertaken for commercial purposes.

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Trade Secrets

Broadly speaking, any confidential business information which provides an enterprise a competitive edge may be considered a trade secret. Trade secrets encompass manufacturing or industrial secrets and commercial secrets. The unauthorized use of such information by persons other than the holder is regarded as an unfair practice and a violation of the trade secret. Depending on the legal system, the protection of trade secrets forms part of the general concept of protection against unfair competition or is based on specific provisions or case law on the protection of confidential information.

The subject matter of trade secrets is usually defined in broad terms and includes sales methods, distribution methods, consumer profiles, advertising strategies, lists of suppliers and clients, and manufacturing processes. While a final determination of what information constitutes a trade secret will depend on the circumstances of each individual case, clearly unfair practices in respect of secret information include industrial or commercial espionage, breach of contract and breach of confidence.

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Other IP Rights

Know -how

Know-how is defined as a package of non-patented practical information, resulting from experience and testing. In addition, Know-how has to be "secret, substantial, identified and valuable". It is composed by information with economic value, not accessible to the public, transferable and non-patented. In addition, know-how should be characterized and / or described on a material support.

Idea and Concept Protection

Ideas and concepts may fall under trade secret and know-how protection as they may contain useful and technical information, required for the manufacture of a product or related to the enterprise, customers, etc which is not accessible to the public and not already patented

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IPR Protection

IP rights are more important to everyone because they can:

  • set the business apart from competitors
  • be sold or licensed, providing an important revenue stream
  • offer customers something new and different
  • form an essential part of marketing or branding
  • be used as security for loans
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IP Management

Does every enterprise, big or small, rely on intellectual property (IP) assets in developing a link between the market, technology and its business strategy,.  The answer is yes.  So, does this also imply that in today’s highly competitive markets every business needs to understand and effectively use the intellectual property system?  Well, the plain answer is again YES.  Matters concerning IP assets arise in almost every business activity

It is a truism that for competing in the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century, successful companies cannot afford to rely solely on the traditional factors of production, namely, land, labor or capital.  They have to supplement their tangible assets with effective management and exploitation of their intangible assets, notably IP assets.  Integrated management of all the resources of the enterprise, therefore, must encompass in its ambit IP assets as well.

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IP Audit

“If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.

Perhaps the above-mentioned expression is the single most compelling reason for any company, particularly an SME, to conduct an intellectual property (IP) Audit. But what should be measured and how can we begin the process?

An IP Audit is defined as a systematic review of the IP assets owned, used or acquired by a business. Its purpose is to uncover under-utilized IP assets, to identify any threats to a company’s bottom line, and to enable business planners to devise informed strategies that will maintain and improve the company’s market position.

In many cases SME’s do not have the resources to conduct a full audit of all its IP and will find it difficult to put a value to each of the components making up an IP portfolio. Putting aside these difficulties, and at the risk of reducing the exercise to the “too-hard basket” it is important for every business to document and value what is, in many cases, its most important intangible assets

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IPR Valuation

The value of an asset is the value of the future economic benefits it brings. The value of an asset, whether tangible or intangible, can be estimated. Some assets are easier to value than others, and some valuations are more precise than others. Monetary or financial valuation is the process of determining or measuring reliably the value or worth of an asset in certain circumstances, the cost or price of an asset may be a good indicator of its value.