This week we’ve received an inquiry regarding Intellectual Property. The term consist of the following: Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights. This is a great topic to talk about for today’s Q&A Friday since most entrepreneurs have no idea about how it could help them or hurt them.
What was the inquiry?
I have a business idea and about to start it. Would like to ask how can I protect it from others who might copy it?
Our expert’s answer to the inquiry:
Unfortunately, a business idea, by itself, without any physical or outward manifestation or expression is incapable of any form of intellectual property protection. It is only when the business idea is converted into an invention that it can be patented; if the business idea results to the creation of a mark, which serves to distinguish the business from its competitors, that it can be trademarked; or the business idea is expressed in some literary or artistic form, that it can be copyrighted.
In the absence of such, the most protection that the person who conceptualized the business idea is to have a Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement and/or Non-Compete Agreement entered into with persons that come into contact with his idea. Aside from this, there is no other form of protection available.
So, What Is Intellectual Property?
According to the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHIL):
Intellectual Property refers to any creation or product of the human mind or intellect. It can be an invention, an original design, a practical application of a good idea, a mark of ownership such as trademark, literary and artistic works, among other things. The term “intellectual property rights” consists of: Patents, Trademark/Service Mark, Copyrights, Industrial Design, Layout Design of Integrated Circuits, Geographical Indications, and Protection of Undisclosed Information.
Let’s focus on the 3, Patents, Trademark, and Copyrights.
A grant issued by the government through the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IP Philippines). It is an exclusive right granted for a product, process or an improvement of a product or process which is new, inventive and useful. This exclusive right gives the inventor the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the product of his invention during the life of the patent.
A patent has a term of protection of twenty (20) years providing an inventor significant commercial gain. In return, the patent owner must share the full description of the invention. This information is made available to the public in the form of the Intellectual Property Official Gazette and can be utilized as basis for future research and will in turn promote innovation and development.
A tool used that differentiates goods and services from each other. It is a very important marketing tool that makes the public identify goods and services. A trademark can be one word, a group of words, sign, symbol, logo, or a combination of any of these. Generally, a trademark refers to both trademark and service mark, although a service mark is used to identify those marks used for services only.
Trademark is a very effective tool that makes the public remember the quality of goods and services. Once a trademark becomes known, the public will keep on patronizing the products and services.
Utilized properly, a trademark can become the most valuable business asset of an enterprise. In addition to making goods and services distinctive, the owner of a mark may earn revenues from the use of the mark by licensing its use by another or though franchising agreements.
Is the legal protection extended to the owner of the rights in an original work.
“Original work” refers to every production in the literary, scientific and artistic domain. Among the literary and artistic works enumerated in the IP Code includes books and other writings, musical works, films, paintings and other works, and computer programs.
Works are protected by the sole fact of their creation, irrespective of their mode or form of expression, as well as their content, quality and purpose. Thus, it does not matter if, in the eyes of some critics, a certain work has little artistic value. So long as it has been independently created and has a minimum of creativity, the same enjoys copyright protection.
So How Can These Help or Hurt My Business?
It can help you or your business in many ways. If your idea is patented, or trademarked, or copyrighted it grants you exclusive rights to the use of it. You can gain commercially from it (patents,copyrights) or gain marketing advantage versus your competitors (Trademark).
It can hurt you badly though if you used a mark that is already owned by another person/entity, or if you used an invention or copyrighted material without consent/agreement from the owner . The owners will file a case against you and eventually ask for compensation.
If you have further questions about Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights, post your questions here.
Or if your interested in having your idea patented/trademarked/copyrighted send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or request for our Free Consultation.