WHAT IS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (IP)?
Intellectual property to a layman can be described as the unique work of an individual, group of individuals, or company. Intellectual property can vary from books, art, music, and technology.
Intellectual property represents products of the mind or intellect. They are ideas that, when converted to tangible forms, can be protected.
Intellectual property is a broad categorical description of the set of intangible assets held and legally protected by a firm or individual from unauthorized use or application. An intangible asset is a non-physical asset that a business or individual owns.
The concept of intellectual property refers to the fact that certain creations of human intellect should be accorded the same protective rights as physical property, which is referred to as tangible assets. Most developed economies have legal safeguards in place to protect both types of property.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF IP
There are several different types of Intellectual Property;
- Trade Secrets
- Industrial Designs
- Geographical Indications
- Trade Dress
- Plant Breeder’s Rights
- Utility Models
- Database Rights
EXPLAINING THE DIFFERENT IP
COPYRIGHT: Protects original works of originality, such as literary, artistic, and musical works. This can include novels, songs, art, and software.
PATENTS: patents provide creators with exclusive rights to their inventions. This encompasses innovative and beneficial procedures, machinery, material compositions, and enhancements.
TRADEMARK: Protect the emblems, names, and slogans that differentiate goods and services. Trademarks help people identify and select products by establishing brand identity.
TRADE SECRETS: Trade secrets are a type of intellectual property that refers to confidential business information that provides a business with a competitive advantage over its competitors. Formulas, processes, designs, client lists, and other sorts of sensitive information that are not widely known outside of the organization are examples of trade secrets.
The information must meet three conditions to be designated a trade secret: it must be confidential, it must have commercial value, and the corporation must take reasonable steps to keep it secret. Trade secrets are legally protected, and firms can sue anyone who misappropriates or reveals their trade secrets.
INDUSTRIAL DESIGN: Industrial design is a kind of intellectual property that refers to a product’s decorative or aesthetic features. It encompasses the visual design of non-utilitarian objects, such as the shape, surface, or ornamentation of an article. Industrial design can be used to safeguard a product’s distinct appearance, which can aid consumers in identifying and distinguishing it from comparable products.
It is vital to stress that, while industrial designs are legally protected, they should not be utilized in place of critical thought and analysis. Furthermore, when writing about industrial designs, it is critical to prevent plagiarism and outright duplication.
GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS: Geographical indications (GIs) are a form of intellectual property that identifies a product as originating from a specific geographical area. GIs indicate that the product has a quality, reputation, or other characteristic that is essentially attributable to its geographical origin. GIs are used on products such as food, wine, handicrafts, and textiles.
TRADE DRESS: Trade dress is a sort of intellectual property that refers to the entire commercial look and feel of a product or service. It covers the different factors used to package a product or service, such as the colour, shape, size, arrangement, and packaging of a product. Trade dress is protected by trademark law, which is a type of intellectual property protection law.
Trade dress can be used to protect a product’s or packaging’s distinctive appearance, which can assist consumers in identifying and distinguishing it from identical products. To be protected, however, trade dress must be both distinctive and non-functional. In other words, trade dress cannot be functional and must be able to identify the source of the goods or services.
PLANT BREEDER RIGHTS: Plant breeder’s rights (PBR) are a sort of intellectual property that grants the breeder of a new plant variety specific, uniform, and stable exclusive commercial rights. PBRs grant the breeder a monopoly for 20 or 25 years on trees and vines, respectively, allowing them to gain on their investment in the new variety’s research and development.
PBRs grant the breeder the exclusive right to reproduce, sell, import, export, and license plant material, as well as transfer the right to another party. The breeder may also prohibit anyone from using the plant material without their authorization.
UTILITY MODELS: A utility model, similar to a patent, is a type of intellectual property. Utility models are often less expensive, faster to obtain, and easier to manage than patents, but they have a shorter duration (generally 6 to 15 years) and fewer severe patentability standards.
Utility models are designed to protect technological inventions that provide enhancements to or adjustments to current items. They grant the holder the sole right to prevent anyone from commercially using the protected invention without their permission. Utility models are typically used to protect minor or gradual improvements, such as mechanical or electrical devices.
DATABASE RIGHTS: Database rights are a sort of intellectual property that recognizes the investment made in compiling a database, even if it does not entail the “creative” part that copyright reflects. Database rights are a type of property right that is similar to but distinct from copyright.
Database rights safeguard the contents of a database, which might contain collections of independent works, data, or other resources organized systematically or methodically and individually accessible via electronic or other methods.
HOW IS COPYRIGHT PROTECTED
Different countries handle Intellectual property protection in different ways, for example, in Nigeria, several laws have a bearing on the protection and administration of the different rights that make up intellectual property. The three main statutes governing intellectual property law in Nigeria are the Copyright Act, the Patents and Designs Act, and the Trademarks Act. These laws govern the protection and administration of the predominant Intellectual property protected in Nigeria as follows:
Copyright: Copyright is governed/protected by the Copyright Act Cap 68, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. Section 1 (1) (a-f) of the Copyright Act provides for works protected by copyright which include; Literary works, Musical works, Artistic works, Cinematograph films, and Sound recordings.
Patents and Designs: The Patents and Designs Act provides for the registration of patents, utility models, and designs in Nigeria. The Act defines a patent as a grant of exclusive right to prevent others from making, using, or selling an invention for a limited period. The Act also provides for the registration of industrial designs, which are defined as any composition of lines or colours or any three-dimensional form, whether or not associated with lines or colours.
Trademarks: The Trademarks Act provides for the registration of trademarks in Nigeria. A trademark is defined as any sign capable of being represented graphically which is capable of distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings. The Act provides for the registration of trademarks, service marks, collective marks, and certification marks.
INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
International intellectual property law is an ensemble of laws that govern the creation, preservation, protection, distribution, and use of intellectual property (IP) on a global scale. Intangible property developed via mental activity, such as an invention, creative work, design, or idea, is referred to as intellectual property (IP). Treaties, other instruments, and international organizations or associated institutions established by nations to protect IP across boundaries form the basis of international intellectual property law.
The Berne Convention, the Paris Convention, the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) are among the most important agreements. These agreements establish guidelines for how intellectual property (IP) should be handled inside a country and how disputes should be resolved.
The Shanghai Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology Co., Ltd. v. Apple Inc. case is an example of a case involving technology that was decided under international intellectual property laws. Shanghai Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology Co., Ltd. claimed that Apple’s Siri voice assistant violated its patent for a chatbot system in this case. The Beijing Intellectual Property Court heard the case and found in favour of Shanghai Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology Co., Ltd. Apple filed an appeal, but the Beijing Higher People’s Court maintained the court’s decision.
This case demonstrates how international intellectual property laws can be used to resolve technological issues. It also emphasizes the necessity of intellectual property rights protection and the potential penalties for infringing on those rights.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY?
Intellectual property (IP) is a matter of continuous controversy and discussion. The way we develop, use, and safeguard intellectual property is probably going to change as long as technology does. Some analysts believe that new technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) will have a significant impact on IP in the future.
Utilizing AI to create and safeguard intellectual property is one area of emphasis. AI is being utilized to produce original content, automate processes, and develop new goods and services. This begs the question of whose intellectual property (IP) generated by AI is and ought to be safeguarded.
The effect of blockchain on IP is another area of interest.
Blockchain is a decentralized, secure, and transparent ledger that can be used to track and verify ownership of digital assets. Some experts believe that blockchain could be used to create a more secure and efficient system for managing IP rights.
Finally, the IoT is expected to have a significant impact on the future of IP. The IoT refers to the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity that enable these objects to connect and exchange data. As more devices become connected to the internet, the amount of data generated will increase, raising questions about how this data should be protected and who owns it.
Overall, the future of IP is likely to be shaped by a combination of emerging technologies, changing business models, and evolving legal frameworks, along with, laws and regulations that protect and guide the use of Intellectual Property. It is important to stay up-to-date on these developments to ensure that your IP is properly protected and that you can take full advantage of new opportunities as they arise in the world of tech and IP.