Intellectual Property Law concerns the establishment and subsequent protection of intangible property that is a product of one's creativity. Rights are provided upon those who create a unique design, artistic work, or invention to be used in commerce. It therefore concerns the eligibility for, and enforcement of, rights to the exploitation of intangible property through design rights, trademarks, trade secrets, database rights, copyrights, and patents; and this area also deals with disputes concerning passing off and confidentiality.
Here is what Intellectual Property Law covers:
Confidentiality is the term used to describe the state of keeping something secret or hidden from public knowledge/ view. Confidential information that is used for commercial purposes can be classed as a business-critical asset or a "trade secret" that must be protected, although it is not actual property.
Copyright is a form of intellectual property which gives the creator of the design or works, the exclusive right to sell, produce or use their product for a set amount of time. Copyright applies to musical, artistic and literary works, such as films, songs and productions. Copyright prevents others from using the creator's work without their permission.
Database Rights concern data which is arranged and stored in a methodical way and can be individually accessed, usually by electronic means. Database rights are rights that protect the collection of data/contents of a database, but not its constituent elements. The database does not have to be original, but it must be demonstrated that a substantial investment was made in obtaining, verifying or presenting the data, in order to qualify for these rights to protect it from being copied and/or exploited.
Design rights are rights given to a creator of a design, and protects the shape and configuration of the design from being duplicated by another creator. To qualify for design rights, the creator will need to prove that it is their design, and evidence the date it was created, through drawings and other documents. Once obtained, the rights last for a set number of years.
A domain name is an online address that allows consumers to easily identify and access the website of a brand or organisation on the internet. Domain names are not automatically granted rights under intellectual property legislation, although the actual name used in the address may have copyrights or trademarks attached to it.
Passing Off is the term used when an individual or business misrepresents itself as another persons' brand or business. Passing off is illegal and the victim can sue the offending business or individual for passing off, even if the applicant has not yet registered their brand or logo. If successful in court, the applicant may be awarded damages for loss of profit, an injunction could be put in place to stop the offending business from passing off, and destruction of the fraudulent goods or services can be ordered by the court.
A patent is a legal right granted to an inventor, which protects their invention from other people being able to use, sell, or import it, without the inventor's prior permission. In order to qualify for a patent, the invention must be new, something that can be used, and "novel". Applying for a patent is a long and expensive process, and needs to be renewed annually.
A Trademark is a word, symbol or design that identifies a brand. Names and logos are the most commonly used Trademarks. The Trademark must be unique enough so as not to be mistaken for another brand. Having a trademark makes it easier for consumers to distinguish one product or service from another. There is a process to follow when applying for a trademark; including ensuring that the design or word is not already registered, and that it is not too similar to another registered trademark. Exclusive use of a trademark is awarded if registered correctly. An "R" written inside a circle, symbolises that a brand has been trademarked and cannot be used by other individuals.