Intellectual property: Whats that?

This type of property is divided into two areas:

1. Industrial property, which includes protection for inventions, trademarks and industrial designs; and
2. Copyright, which includes protection for literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs.

The rights and protection provided by copyright extend to other parties involved in the creation of the work.

Experience suggests that very few businesses understand the amount of intellectual property that they own, its value to them and how to best exploit it. Invariably businesses tend only to know its value or indeed of its existence when it is stolen or infringed and that action has an impact on the business.

The simplest example of Intellectual Property is the main essence of goodwill. The Trade Name or brand of the business or through which the business trades is key to the business and it is an commercial imperative that these are protected. The best example lies in the value of some of our major brand where in fact their greatest value is in their trade names.

An inventor would never go to market with his/her invention without first obtaining the protections afforded to that product. Why should business with good trading names do otherwise. Well in fact they do and it is the exception rather than the norm that trade names are protected by registration.

The distinction between an unregistered trade name and one is registered is for another time but suffice to say that it is very much in the interest of a business to register its mark/name in respect of the goods which they sell. If the business had such a registered trade mark in the case, an action would have been so much more straightforward that it might have been worth pursuing for the injunction and damages, and importantly, legal costs.

Examples occur all over the place where someone breaches a businesses trade name. threats are made to cease and desist. With an unregistered mark/name it is almost impossible to do anything further once the breach has stopped occuring. Whereas if registered the business is provided with better protection under statutory provisions relating to trade marks. The business would then have the ability to proceed for damages whilst ensuring recovery of the legal costs of preventing a continuation of the breach.

Brendan OBrien
Intellectual Property Group


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