The discussion on intellectual property starts with distributing it into three categories for the same of convenience and clarity.
The product of intellectual effort could be tangible or intangible encompassing such outcomes as literary creations, artistic creations, books, music, song, dance, drama, sculpture, paintings and even computer programs.
It must be recognized that an idea by itself is not eligible for being copyright. The idea must be transformed into the tangible or intangible creation in order to be eligible for protection under copyright law.
Copyright law affords protection to the creator of the intangible or tangible asset and keeps him and his rights safeguarded against acts such as copying, modifications, displays, use in promotions, distribution or in any way make use of his intellectual effort for commercial or other gain. It must be understood that the creator or author retains copyright over his creation even if he licenses it for use by others save and except when he waives such rights under a contract that specifically states so. For copyright to be applicable the idea must be original and must be translated into concrete tangible or intangible creation and the use of such a creation is covered by copyright law. An example is when an author gets an idea but does not translate it into work. The idea is not eligible for coverage by copyright. However, if he writes a book based on the idea, then the book and its contents are covered.
Industrial property encompasses industrial designs, inventions, process flows and other aspects connected with industry and it also covers trademark, geographic indicators and service marks.
Industrial design is defined as a blend of art, engineering and science that results in improved aesthetics, ergonomics, functionality and also cost reductions of a product and contributes to its greater desirability in markets. Since it is a form of intellectual property, it deserves protection.
Trademarks abound with names such as Coca Cola, 3M, Macdonalds, Sony and LG being internationally recognized brands, each distinctive and connoting a whole lot about the product and the company. Much effort goes into the building up of a trademark over time.
Trademarks are broadbased covering those artifacts that are part of the goodwill of any individual or organization. These include labels, name, signature, brand, heading, numerals, shape, graphics, packaging, color themes and combinations of any of these that contribute to creation of a unique identity for that creator or possessor and help him realize value therefrom. Tradenarks need protetion to ensure the owner alone gains benefits for the efforts he has put in. It is an important constituent of intellectual property.
Owners of trademarks need to be alert to protect their trademarks and also keep a watch to ensure that there are no infringements being committed by anyone anywhere in the world. A company or an individual needs to register his trademark for greater protection under the law but he can just as well carry on a business with an unregistered trademark. In that case he has no or little protection. If he has registered it he is fully protected for a period of five years under the law.
An individual or a company may develop a unique product or process which can be termed as an invention that no one has developed before and one which has positive results as regards functionality, production and costs or other properties. Patents are grated by authorities to such inventors to grant them exclusive and monopolistic use of commercializing that invention for a period of 20 years. Patents may cover a process or a product.
In order to obtain a patent, the process or product should be patentable in the country of its invention and it must adhere to established conventions. It should be new; it must be non-obvious and it should fulfill a purpose.
One of intellectual property’s important constituents is trade secrets. This is defined as confidential, proprietary information of an individual or an enterprise that may apply to method or process or formulations. Most countries still do not give proper emphasis to protection of trade secrets, so vital for the health of enterprises.
Geographical indications point to a product originating in a specific geographic location with specific attributes pertinent to that region or the traditions, processes and methods of production implemented there that make that product possess some qualities that make it desirable. This term in general applies more to agricultural and dairy produce that are influenced by local conditions. It can, however, also be applied to non-agricultural produce such as handicrafts. Geographic indicator certifications may confer qualities on a certain product simply due to its origin and the methods and processes in use in that region.