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Intellectual Property Rights – Lecture Notes

Intellectual Property

Intellectual properties are those creative ideas of mind such as artworks, inventions, designs, names and all those inventions created using mind. In order to receive  intellectual property rights to own  certain intellectual properties, the creator must not only have created it, that should be bought to register with an appropriate federal government agency according to the  Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883). 

Intellectual property can be categorized mainly in two groups as industrial properties and copyrights. The information on intellectual property rights can be found in  the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883). (A link is provided for the official WIPO page at the end of the article). Intellectual property rights provide protection to a variety of industrial properties. That includes industrial properties such as patents for inventions, trademarks, service marks, utility models, industrial designs, geographical indications etc. 


A patent is an intellectual property right, which is usually granted for a product or a method of doing something in a new way or a new technology. The Paris Convention for the protection of intellectual property which was signed on 20th of March 1883 in Paris is still in force in protecting the industrial properties.

The patent meaning according to the Paris convention is “an exclusive right that was granted in order to protect an invention”

Google Patent

Google patent is a search engine that lists all the patents registered. In addition to the registered patents, it lists the applications for patents that were not granted yet.

Copy right

The second category of intellectual property is the copyright. Copyrights can be explained as literary works and artistic creations (Summary of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883), n.d.). The Bern Convention for the protection of literary and artistic works of 1886 deals with those rights of authors and the creators. Article 2 of the Bern convention states that copyrights can be applied to all the modes of literary and artistic works such as books, films, songs, paintings etc.  And also for technological inventions such as literary work of computer programs. 
Copyright definition in Berne convention further indicates that it provides the  authors, musicians, painters etc. the control as on how their work is used and by whom.

Copyright sign/ Copyright symbol

The symbol that is used for copyrights is © which can be inserted in typing using Ctrl+Alt+C.
Copyright logo simply indicates that the particular creation was recognized as a copyright.

In this technological era, where users have easy access to almost everything on internet, it is important to check copyrights of certain creations when they use such creations especially for commercial purpose. If users want to perform any act using those creations they should either get the permission or use sites that provides  copyright free images, copyright free music etc.

Copyright infringement occurs when someone uses work that is protected under copyrights act without receiving the permission to use it. According to the copyright law, such uses includes reproducing, distributing, and publicly displaying the creations without permission.   For instance, under YouTube copyright one can not re-upload or claim someone else’ work as their own.

Intellectual property rights on Computer programs

As far as computer programs concerned, in addition to the protection under copyrights, it receives protection under patents under certain circumstances. Software or the computer program is protected by copyrights. The concepts related to the software program may get protection by patents when certain requirements are met.
According to copyright law, computer programs are identified as a literary work . Therefore, the codes in the software program are protected as copyright similar to the words in a book for example. Under the copyright, only the software program is protected not the process. In order to get legal ownership, a patent is required. However, a software invention to be patentable it should be more than of a regular technology. It should be something that provides a new solution for a technical problem.


Similarities and differences between patents and copyrights

To dive in deeper to the similarities and contrasts of copyrights and patents, other than that the copyrights are for protecting literary works and artistic creations and patents are for protecting new products, designs and inventions as simply explained, a range of other facts can also be utilized.

Patents are a very important way of providing incentives to inventors by giving legal protection for their inventions. Hence it encourages inventors to engage in unique creations which are an essential part of the development of the world. The legal span of the patents is considered to give legal protection generally for 20 years. Once the legal span is over, that invention becomes available for others to use. When a particular inventor obtained a patent, it gives certain rights for that person. Patent owners can decide who can use their inventions. And also, they are entitled to sell their patent to someone else if they wish to .

Obtaining a patent

In order to obtain a patent, an application must be filed describing the invention. The patent and cooperation treaty has given the facility for applicants to obtain an Internationally valid patent at the same time they apply for a national application.

However, there are certain requirements that must be fulfilled in order to obtain a patent right. As the first requirement, the subject matter should be suitable or in other words, it should be a new and useful invention. Secondly, the description of the invention should be in a welldefined and a clear manner with exact information. Thirdly, novelty or the quality of being new and original should be met. As another requirement, the invention must not be a combination of two patents. And lastly, an application for the patent should be made before the grace period.

Generally, it should be made within a one-year period of time of the first sale or the disclosure. However, different countries may have different grace period. Although patents give exclusive rights for the inventors, WIPO created some limitations in order to maintain a balance in patent rights. This includes allowing the public to use patented inventions for private or uncommercial works and research works.  Some countries allow drug manufacturers to use patented inventions without permission from the owner.

Obtaining a copyright

Unlike patents, copyrights need not be registered under a government federation in order to obtain legal ownership. According to the Bern convention, creators of those works obtains copyrights for their works automatically.

Even though WIPO is not offering any database for registering copyrights, some countries offer a national registration system if the creators wish to register their work. The protection for the copyright under Bern convention is based on three main principles. The first principal is the national treatment. It explains that a work originates from one member states shall be given the same protection in all the member states. And Trade-related aspects of intellectual property
rights agreements (TRIPS) further binds WTO members for this protection, except those who are not related to the convention.

Similarly to patents, copyrights also have certain limitations. One such exception under copyright act is the exception of fair use, which allows the public to use a work without the permission of the owner. For example, in certain circumstances such as in comments, newspapers, teaching etc.
Other exceptions allow the libraries to make copies of the works, certain authorities to make other formats of the work such as for the users with disabilities, owners of a copy of the software to create back-up copy etc.

Copyrights grant legal protection for literary and artistic works for authors, artists or simply for the creators of those works. The legal span of copyrights run for not less than 50 years after the creator’s death and usually copyright lets creator and also its heirs economically benefit from the particular creation. However national laws may enable legal protection for a longer time than of the time span provided by the WIPO treaties

(WIPO – World Intellectual Property Organization)

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