10.04 Need to know in intellectual property law

10 Intellectual Property Law

My students want to know what they really need to know about intellectual property law, especially for the exams. In concrete terms, these are the following 4 points:

To be able to protect your products with the best possible intellectual property rights, it is important that you are familiar with the entire IP portfolio, i.e. the 4 intellectual property rights trademark, patent, copyright and design.

Furthermore, you need to know the conditions for the protection of intellectual property rights, which the relevant laws specify (TmPA, PatA, CopA, DesA).

The third point is a simple one. What rights must one register and what rights are created by law (lat. «ipso iure»)? This is easy to remember. The only right that comes into existence without registration is copyright; with practically worldwide protection (based on the Berne Convention and TRIPS Agreement).

The fourth point is particularly important from an economic perspective. It gives businesses time to recoup their investment in intellectual property innovations during a legal monopoly. It is the term of protection. From this point of view, the trademark offers the best protection. Trademark protection can be renewed every 10 years for another 10 years. This circumstance must be taken into account in particular for 2-D designs (e.g. textile design). For example, the well-known Burberry pattern (Burberry Check) is (also) protected as a trademark. The pattern was developed in the 20’s of the 20th century. If the design had only been registered as a design, its protection would have expired in the 1940s (see below). Thanks to a trademark, protection now lasts forever (!). Copyright protection is limited, but generally lasts for 70 years. The design is in third place in terms of duration of protection. A design can be registered for 5 years. This protection can be renewed four times. This results in a possible term of protection of 25 years. Although for many people the patent is the epitome of intellectual property protection, it is in last place in terms of the duration of protection. A patent can generally be protected for 20 years. An exception with an additional protection certificate exists for pharmaceutical products (see chapter […] Intellectual Property Law – Patent).

10 Intellectual Property Law