What are industrial property rights and how are they protected?

Industrial law includes various patents, innovations, utility models, trademarks and databases. Knowledge of their legal protection pays off not only for large companies, but also for medium-sized or small businesses. How do they differ from copyright and what legal protection do they enjoy?

vynález, průmyslová práva
7 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

“Now! Now he was here! You must have met…” the well-known line from the film Jára Cimrman lying asleep quite accurately describes the essence of the protection of various patents or industrial rights in general. Unlike copyrights, which accrue to the author by the mere creation of a work, industrial property rights must be registered with the Industrial Property Office or similar offices abroad.

So if you procrastinate in declaring your miracle invention, you could easily be overtaken by a Mr Bell or Mr Edison.

Tip: Today’s fast-paced environment lends itself to situations where someone uses your work without your permission. But before you start referring to copyright law, you should definitely know what copyright is and how it can effectively protect it. You can find the answer to all of this in our article on the site.

Are you applying for a trademark registration?

It’s easy to overlook a mistake in trademark registration It may not be obvious at first, but it may appear after you start your business, when your competitors start parasitizing you. Make sure you have everything accurately documented and filed. We’ll take care of it.

What is covered by the term industrial rights?

Industrial rights protection is mainly used when you need to protect your product or process from unauthorised use or copying.
In particular, the following are protected:

  • scientific discoveries (inventions),
  • utility and industrial designs,
  • technical solutions and improvements,
  • trade marks,
  • designations of origin and geographical indications of products,
  • know-how,
  • trade names,
  • software.

Condition for registration

As mentioned in the introduction, registration is a prerequisite for the creation of industrial rights protection, which can be done either at national level or abroad under international agreements.

Territorial nature of industrial rights

Another characteristic feature of industrial property is its territorial nature. Registered patents, utility models or trademarks are valid only in the territory of the country in which they are registered. If you want to obtain protection in another country, you must apply separately in that country.

The European Patent Office ( EPO ) and the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) can make things easier for you in Europe (or the European Union). The EUIPO issues trade mark and design registrations (equivalent to design patents in the US) that are valid throughout the European Union (EU). The EPO is the regional office responsible for granting European patents. All EU Member States are members of the EPO.

Whether you are facing the registration of a trademark, utility model or patent, you will usually want to consult with an attorney in addition to the examiners and drafters of the technical solution itself. This can be used not only for filing applications with the Industrial Property Office, but especially for the subsequent drafting or review of licensing and other agreements and for representation in court.

The two most important subsets of industrial rights are utility models, protecting various technical solutions, and patents, protecting inventions. Both institutes are very often applicable to the same solution. They differ mainly in complexity and length of proceedings.

Utility models

A utility model is useful if you need protection for a technical solution, i.e. if you want to prevent competitors from using or patenting similar solutions.

The advantage of legal protection through utility models is the relative speed of proceedings (about 3 months). Protection of a solution by a utility model lasts 10 years in the Czech Republic.

The basic rights that you have under a utility model are the right to use the product and to license its use. However, utility models are not recognised in some countries. These include, for example, the USA and the UK, or Sweden or Switzerland.

Patented inventions

Although it may seem preferable to deal with industrial rights protection through utility models, there are solutions where this cannot be done. These are methods of manufacture, measurement or use), software and biological reproductive materials. Here it is essential to apply for a patent.

Protection by invention is longer, can last 20-25 years, and also brings more prestige. It is therefore necessary to consider whether the initial higher costs and longer registration period (which can take up to several years) will be offset by, for example, long-term licensing.

Tip: In the history of the Czech lands we can find many other important inventors besides Jára Cimrman. Let us mention Prokop Diviš and his so-called weather machine – a grounded lightning rod. Also well known is the invention of the propeller, which was patented in 1827 by Josef František Ressel. The inventor of the bustle, Veverka’s cousin, met a turbulent fate. Although their discovery was revolutionary for its time and made work easier for farmers in many ways, the cousins did not have a business spirit, could not further “market” their invention and monetize it, and lived in absolute poverty. Poor business tactics, coupled with a lack of business freedom, allegedly led to multi-billion dollar losses on the sale of the licence for another important Czech discovery, the contact lens invented by Otto Wichterle. Another important Czech discoverer, Antonín Holý, has already enjoyed, at least in part of his life, dignified and free conditions for his research in the field of new drug development, so that the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry now receives almost CZK 2 billion a year just from royalties and patents for his drug discoveries.

Trademarks

A trademark is any sign, in particular words, including personal names, colours, drawings, letters, numerals, the shape of a product or its packaging or sounds, if the sign is capable of distinguishing the products or services of one person from those of another person. In practice, a trademark may be not only word-based (“Available Advocate”) but also figurative (the brand logo) or spatial (the Toblerone chocolate wrapper).

Tip: Have you created an interesting product or is your company taking off and becoming well-known? You can register a trademark to avoid a situation where your competitors start marketing a product under the same brand or name. We have written the details in our article.

Industrial Property Office

TheIndustrial Property Office(IPO) in the Czech Republic is the only office responsible for the registration and administration of industrial property. Its main task is to ensure the legal protection of industrial property, in particular industrial rights such as trademarks, patents, design rights, trademark certificates and industrial designs.

Its main activities are the granting of patents and the maintenance of trade mark registers.

Thedatabase of the Industrial Property Office contains information on all granted patents, trademarks, designs and designs as well as information on all applications for the grant of these rights. According to some experts, patent documents contain up to 90 % of technical information not yet published in any literature. They are therefore a very valuable source of up-to-date technical information, and many companies that are keen to develop and grow rapidly regularly consult and monitor the databases.

Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property

Patent protection has been harmonised around the world through the adoption of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD). The countries that have signed this treaty form the Industrial Property Protection Union. The Convention ensures that industrial property is protected against misuse, unauthorised use and trade. The Convention also provides that countries will respect the rights of industrial owners and enforce their rights at the national level.

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Trademark registration

Starting a business and want to protect your new business? Or are you already an experienced entrepreneur and need to defend yourself against attacks from competitors? Protect your business that you put a lot of energy into and register a trademark.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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