10.01 The brilliant idea

10 Intellectual Property Law

The brilliant idea is at the beginning of every project, even in the digital world. But there is also the danger that someone might steal the idea and realise it himself. In order to prevent this from happening and thus to promote innovation, the four intellectual property rightstrademark, patent, design and copyright – allow for a corresponding monopolisation. Intellectual property law is called «IP» for short, the rights «IPR». For example, a company refers to its «IP department», i.e. the department that deals with the company’s intellectual property rights. In addition to intellectual property rights, the fair trade law (Switzerland: UWG) is also regularly applied. This protects against unfair competition in business transactions. In the case of patent, design and copyright law, the monopoly is limited in time and trademark protection can be extended at will. One problem can be that the rights mentioned do not protect the idea as such, but only (but still!) its expression; as a two- or three-dimensional trademark, as a disclosed idea in the form of a patent specification, as a design and in copyright in various forms, from art and literature to software. Ideas and concepts are, if at all, protected by the Swiss fair trade law (UWG). When presenting ideas and concepts, it is also advisable – if the partners accept this – to conclude non-disclosure and non-use agreements.

10 Intellectual Property Law