Introduction of Intellectual Property LawIntellectual property is described as the product of the creator’s mental efforts, it is recognised as an intangible asset and could be presented in different forms such as inventions, discoveries and artistic works.
Intellectual properties are under the protection of the Intellectual property law with three major dimensions: copyright, trademarks and patents. The existence of the intellectual property law intended to stimulate the creativity of the human mind for the benefit of the public, but also securing and ensuring the creator benefiting from their creation. By law, the creator has the right to control the use of their creation for a limited period of time, allowing the creator to engage in commercial activities with consumers of their creation, examples are product reproduction publication and distribution; authorising accessibility to other business entities and individuals to their creation; trading with their intellectual property rights etc. As mentioned earlier, the Intellectual property law complies with the three major dimensions: copyright, trademarks and patents as the framework to protect creator’s right over their creation. Each dimension is applicable to different expression forms of creative work, the following sections are a brief explanation to each of the dimensions.CopyrightUnder the intellectual property law, Copyright is the right granted to creators of certain categories of work.
Examples are as follow:original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works,sound recordings, films,broadcasts, cable programmes,the typographical arrangement of published editions,computer programmes,original databases.The copyright owner often is the creator(s) who participated and contributed during the creation of the work. For example, a music composer composed an instrumental without lyrics or singing, the composer then is the sole author and the rightful copyright owner of the music piece. However, in situations where lyrics were present in the song and the lyrics were written by another lyricist, both the composer and the lyricist were involved in the authorship process and owns the copyright of the song, this is known as joint authorship—a work prepared by two or more authors and each author with substantial and valuable contribution to the work. Another common form of copyright ownership in the United States is the “work made for hire”. When a work subject to copyright that is assigned by the employer and generated by an employee as part of his/her job, the employer is then considered as the legal author. Copyright can only protect an original form of expression of ideas in any fixed format, either in written notes, prints, photo, video, or other medium such as CD-ROM, DVD and Internet resources etc.
The underlying ideas, on the other hand are not protected by copyright, as there is no physical evidence presenting the form of expression of an original idea, moreover if the form of expression is not fixed, by which means sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration, creations such as ice sculpture or cake design are considered as a form of art expression, however their nature do not fit the fixed medium criteria, hence the creator cannot claim copyright over their creation. TrademarkA trademark is the original and recognisable sign, design, or expression which a business identifies its goods or services and distinguishes themselves from other business competitors. A trademark may consist of words, letters, numerals, visual designs, the shape of goods, packaging, or of other signs or indications that are capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of others. Unlike copyright, the right of owning the trademark is not granted to the creator automatically after a the recognisable sign, design, or expression was being created, any person or company who uses or intended to use a trademark must apply to register the mark as soon as possible to ensure priority over anyone else who applies to register the same or similar mark. The trademark remains valid for 10 years after filing plus 10-year renewal periods. According to the Sieckmann criteria following the judgement of case Sieckmann v German Patent and Trademark Office.
In order to register a trademark, all seven criteria listed as the following must be fulfilled: clear, precise, self-contained, easily accessible, intelligible, durable and objective. The Sieckmann criteria offers a clear checklist for trademark applicants but on the other hand has set certain restriction to some entities such as trademark registration for smell and sound, as these products can hardly fulfill the intelligible and objective criteria, hence a large portion of registered trademarks comes along with visual presentation such as name, logo, Symbol and even figure or mascot, as it is the most effective way to match all the Sieckmann criteria.PatentA patent is a form of ‘industrial property’, which grants exclusive right to the patent owner, allowing the owner to exclude other entities from reproducing or using of a new invention that offers innovative product or services, or introducing a new technical solution to an existing problem. A patent generally last for 20 years from the filing date of the application which can be assigned, transferred, licensed or used by the owner.
As patents are territorial, an Irish patent is only valid in Ireland, patent owners will need to apply for overseas applications.Short-term patent is also available in Ireland, with simpler procedures and a maximum patent length of 10 years. The evidence of the invention novelty are not required with the short-term patent application, which can effectively reduce the costs and length of time involved in getting an invention patented.
The applicant can apply for both short-term patent and a full-term patent with the same invention, once the full-term patent is granted the short-term patent will become void, this can effectively ensure the invention under patent protection and allowing the patent owner gaining maximise profit from his/her invention. In order to maintain a patent in force, the patent owner must pay the annual renewal fees each year from the third year, owner failed to pay renewal fees within six months time will result in expiration of the patent, where the invention is no longer under protection.