an entrepreneur, you start to gather more and more tools, computers, maybe even physical properties: an office, or a workshop. They all have a certain value which can be expressed by how much money they are worth i.e. how much you get when you sell them.
Intellectual property also has a value and is also associated with a physical carrier, but the inherent worth is not that easy to estimate and understand. Intellectual property is an umbrella-term that contains all the protectable creations of the human mind, the million-dollar business is however, that your protected creations can only be used by you (unless you give permission for the use of your intellectual property in exchange of – let’s say: money).
If you have something, which is better working or looking than your competitors’ product, then you are at a competitive advantage. You can claim a monopoly even over the whole world for the utilisation of your product in different countries. You have to protect your innovation to enjoy the fruits of your work because otherwise others will (just think about Nikola Tesla).
The general idea behind intellectual property laws is to protect the creators, inventors and their creations by allowing them time-bound monopoly/rights over the use of their work. This ensures that the creator is rewarded for their work thus these laws “promote progress” and encourage other creative minds to come out with new inventions. It is important to note that the intellectual rights usually only apply to the intellectual creation and not for the embodiment of that, therefore selling a t-shirt does not mean that you have sold the right to use the ornamentation on it for other purposes.
One easy example to start with: trademark
One of the most basic and tangible forms of intellectual property is the trademark. There are several artists who use an artist name instead of their real name, like Elton John or the world-famous band Queen who also used that trade name and developed it as a brand, or just think about your favourite band: how they sell their merchandise rights (T-shirts, mugs, stickers) – there is a lot of intellectual property involved in that process.
SMEs and entrepreneurs also have a business name which can be used as trademark, which is capable to be branded and that is a very important and basic part of their intellectual assets.
There could be a lot more intellectual assets to utilize of which you may have never thought of: from customers’ lists via sales strategies to contracts; almost everything could be exploited as an intellectual asset.
Of course, it is vital to protect the most important things first and keep an order: it is advisable to protect your more valuable creations first.
Intellectual assets are those intellectual creations, which are recorded, controlled and have future (or current) economic benefits.
We will deal with Intellectual Assets in the last chapter but it is important to understand the distinction between intellectual assets and intellectual properties.
Intellectual Property consists of products of the creative mind: inventions, literary and artistic works and trademarks, names, pictures and forms as well, but IP is the creation of your mind which could be protected by law – if you claim that.
The major branches of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are:
The industrial property rights such as :
• plant varieties
• layout-designs of integrated circuits
• geographical indications
• trade dresses
• database rights
• trade secrets
...and the Copyright and Different (related) Rights.
We will deal with them in separate chapters, as copyright is different from the other intellectual properties and we also comply with the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) subdivision.
Industrial property rights protect ideas that are useful and applicable to industry (including creative industry as well), Copyright is aimed to protect literary and artistic works.