Intellectual property rights
The main aim of the copyright laws is to protect works of human intellect and thoughts'
expressions. Copyright laws protect the expressions of literary and artistic works. This
covers any written material, drawings, diagrams, photos, sculptures, music, songs and
even computer software. Copyright laws prevent any one from using copyrighted work
without the permission of its owner. The copyright protects the expressions of the ideas
not the ideas themselves, that’s why different authors can right books or music about the
same idea but in different ways and each one has his copyrighted work.
The followings are some types of works that are protected by copyright laws:
- Literary works
- Musical works
- Sound recordings and songs
- Movies, plays and TV programs
- Architectural works
- Paintings, drawings and maps
- Pictorial, and sculptural works
All such works should be original works of authorship.
Copyright lasts for 50 years according to the Berne convention from the date of the
author's death, but the EU and USA extended it to be 70 years.
Rights that a copyright holder may have
The copyright holder has the full control over his/her work and can prevent others from
using it without permission. The followings are some of the rights he/she may have:
- Reproduction of the work right: this covers all forms of reproducing the work in
any form such as printing, photocopying or converting books to other medium
such as audio or digital format. This right also protects duplicating computer
media such as disks, CDROMs and so on. This applies also to copying tapes and
- Performance right: This covers all rights related to performing the work such as
playing music or orchestras, acting on stages, singing songs. This also covers all
rights related to communication to the public like broadcasting and distribution
over cables or Internet. In short it is the right of presenting the work to open
- Translation and adoption rights: It covers all activities or transferring the work
into language other than its original one. The adoption right includes any
modification of the work to create new one for example making movie based on
II. Related rights
Related rights protect those who involve with the copyrighted work to bring it to the
public. These are:
- Performers such as musicians, singers, actors etc. They are given the right
because they can bring life to the work and to protect their interpretation of the
work. Performers have the right to prevent broadcasting, recording or any way to
reproduce their work without permission.
- Producers such as recordings company who brings the work (specially sound and
films) to the public in the form of CDs, tapes, and even in computer files forms
(mp3s). They are given the right because of their investment to get the recordings
or the organization of the work done in order to protect their losses if others
copied or distributed non-authorized copies of the work.
- Broadcasters such as broadcasting organization (radio, cable, TV, Internet and so
on). They are granted the rights because they made the work available for the
public. They also protected because of their investment of transmitting/re-
transmitting the signals over air/cables Internet to the public. Broadcasters have
the right of re-broadcasting or recording and distributing the work. They have the
right on the broadcast activity and not on the material which belongs to the
Trademark is a sign (such as logos, words, letters, abbreviations, symbols, drawings
or any combination) that distinguishes some one’s (companies, traders, service
providers, manufacturers, etc.) goods or services from others (usually competitors)
goods or services in the market place. Trademark is a property of a single person,
company or even institute that registers it.
The two main requirements of a Trademark to be registered under Madrid agreement
- The mark must be Distinctive. This means that the mark should not be generic
and not describing the good. Instead the mark should distinguish ones goods or
services from another. For example the word computers can not be registered as a
mark for computers shop since it describes the shop but it can be used for other
kinds of shops.
- The mark must not be Deceptive. This means the mark must not specify by the
name that the product has certain quality or feature. An example of such deceptive
marks is "Northern Olive Oil" which is not from the northern area.
In order for some one to register a trademark he/she must file an application for
registration. The registration office searches for existing marks and examines the
distinctiveness and not deceptiveness of the mark before granting the trademark.
The registration is important because it prevents others from using the same
trademark. As a result, customers can be protected from cheating caused by using the
same mark but different quality and different origin. The trademark is held for
indefinite time once it is registered, it will remain for the owner but he/she must keep
The company must register its trademark so it can protect its trademark by trademark
laws. As a result this company can prohibit others from using it. Unregistered
trademarks can be protected after it has acquired enough reputation in the market.
Another form of less reliable protection is when the mark gets enough reputation in
the market which gives it sufficient distinctiveness from others. In fact this occurs
after some considerable time which makes this method not suitable for new products
in the marketplace.
IV. Industrial Design
Industrial design means all ornamental or aesthetic features of a finished product such
as shapes, configurations, patterns, colors, surface, or any other two or three-
dimensional features which usually distinguished by human eye.
Industrial design covers many kinds of products such as jewelry, electrical
appliances, watches, textile designs, fashion, or luxury accessories, furniture, toys,
cars and so on.
In short industrial design cares about the appearance or visual features of products.
Industrial design protects its owner from establishing products that looks the same,
which lead to distinctive product appearance. So extra value will be added to the
product, which is its appearance. It also protects the consumer since the product that
has specific look (appearance) it must has specific features or quality based on a
single manufacturer or industrial design owner.
The industrial design protection lasts for 5 years with renewal possibility for 15 to 25
years maximum. TRIPS agreement requires minimum 10 years of protection.
Here are the main conditions that are needed for protection under industrial design:
- The design must be registered.
- It must be new or original
- Examination may be needed to determine its originality.
- It must be published before the registration, during the process or within defined
time after the registration process.
- It must be reproducible by industrial methods.
These conditions may vary from country to country in specially if the design must be
registered and how to define its originality.
Industrial design vs. patent
Industrial design is related to how the object looks like and not its functionality while
patent protects new inventions or processes of innovative and useful functions so it
cares about how the object works. Patents protect new technical designs while
industrial design protects new appearance of the design.
In short Patent covers the functionality of the design while Industrial design covers
the appearance of the product.
The main aim of patents is to encourage technology innovation, protect inventors and
investments made to get the invention by rewarding for the intellectual activity.
Patents award both the invention and its further developments and refinements where
it becomes feasible for industry and market. Such reward given to the inventor (either
person or company) is a good incentive to other inventors to promote their
development of new technologies. Moreover the patent requires that the invention
must be disclosed to the public which may help others to do further development or
refinement of the technology.
Patents protect inventions in all technological fields as long as they have industrial
applicability. Such as machines, chemical compounds and electronics systems.
In short patents encourage technological economic and intellectual work creativity by
protecting inventors and their inventions.
Here is list of main benefits of a patent holder:
- Patent holder can prevent others from selling, importing, making, selling,
marketing or using the invention.
- These rights remain for the patent holder for 20 years from the date in which the
application is filed.
- Since the patent holder has this right for certain years, full disclosure to the public
of using and making the patent occurs after the protection period expires.
The patent holder is responsible for taking the initiative to enforce a patent.
Things that are discovered in the nature and not invented are not patentable, such as
the astrological discoveries and natural laws. Human genes can not be patented also.
Moreover, inventions that violate laws of nature such as a perpetual motion machine.
TRIPS agreement does not allow patents to be granted to scientific theories, business
or playing games schemes, and medical treatment and diagnostics methods.
The followings are the characteristics that an invention must have in order to be
- New: The invention must be new or original, which means inventions that have
been made or used before, will not get patent.
- Non-obvious: It must have an inventive step, which means that the invention
should have significant advance in the invention area. The term non-obvious
means when one with fair experience in that invention field would notice the
progress made by the new invention. If the invention consists of obvious idea of
the field, it will not grant the patent.
- Useful: It means that the invention must be applicable by industry can capable for
VII. Unfair Competition
Unfair competition is all acts of dishonest competitions in industrial or commercial
matters and breaking rewards of intellectual properties. It has been mentioned in the
Brussels revision of the Paris Convention in the early 1900. It has been specified in
three main prohibited acts:
- Confusion: All acts that may cause confusion with competitors’ products or
- False allegations: All acts that discredit the competitors’ products or activities.
- Misleading indications: All acts that mislead the public about the competitors’
products quality or usability.
National laws are set to assure honest competition in commercial and industrial
The main purpose of unfair competition laws is to protect the competitors and the
customers and the competition in the interest of the public. Such laws encourage the
competition and the production of new products and intellectual properties, which
advances the technology.
Unfair competition major categories are:
- Causing confusion: to confuse the customer who looks for certain product. Like
using names or colors similar to others products or marks so as not to let the
customer distinguish the original product easily. An example of that is the use of
KFC, which stands for King Fired Chicken instead of the famous Kentucky Fried
- Misleading: To make a false impression of the competitor's product of having
false characteristics or features. An example of this is the claim that certain
washing machine soap cleans dirty cloths, which implies that other soaps do not
- Discrediting competitors: to give customers incorrect information about the
competitors' products by giving aspersions on others products. An example of this
that competitors toys contains sharp edges that are harmful for kids, while the
competitors toys do not really have sharp edges.
- Disclosure of secret information: to reveal secret information about competitors’
product. Such as revealing the internal design of electronics chips to the public.
- Taking advantage of another's achievements: to confuse the customer by
taking advantage of competitors’ products' quality. Like using a mark similar to
famous brand name on a product like using kK instead of cK on Celvin Klien
- Comparative advertising: to claim one's product is better than the other. Such as
the comparison between the same kind of beverages.