Intellectual property rights are an integral part of the intangible capital of companies. As such, they must be properly exploited, but also sufficiently protected using specifically dedicated legal tools.
Why companies are interested in intellectual property?
For businesses, intellectual property and related rights are very valuable. They are the guarantors of its success, but also of its growth since they enter into the intangible capital of the company, and therefore in its balance sheet.
Intellectual property rights put together all the rights to protect inventions and creations such as industrial models, designs, inventions or even artistic and literary works. Intellectual property can be broadly defined by two categories:
- Literary and artistic property which is made up of associated rights (performers, phonograms, audiovisual producers) as well as copyright.
- Industrial property mainly represents trademarks, patents, models and designs. Other rights are also generally mentioned, such as plant varieties, semiconductor products or topographies.
The company’s interest in protecting IP
For a company, protecting its intellectual property can be interesting for several reasons.
Intellectual property, or intellectual property rights, hold a major place in the intangible capital of the company. It makes it possible to transform something difficult to quantify into a tangible element, real capital which then appears on the company’s balance sheet. When these elements are identified, they allow the company to acquire a form of operating monopoly for varying durations and geographic areas. For the company, the profitability of its intangible investments is thus guaranteed.
Exclusive rights of use
Intellectual property rights offer its holder full exploitation rights. Competitors and other third parties cannot use this creation. The holder may, in the event of illegal use of his intellectual property, take legal action to claim compensation for the damage caused to him. In some other cases, it may initiate various measures such as the request for destruction of counterfeit materials or products, for example.
Innovation is at the heart of growth for all businesses. But it only has meaning if it is protected. Otherwise, it can be exploited without limits by competing companies, and often at a lower cost. As a result, the inventor will find it hard to make a profit from the research and development costs of his idea. Immediate reproduction has often had a detrimental effect on companies and their research and development policies.
Innovation allows the company to be dynamic in the eyes of investors and consumers. It thus proves that it is turned towards the future and able to move forward. Highlighting your difference only makes sense if the innovations that allow this differentiation are properly protected. Finally, protecting your intellectual property makes it possible to fight actively and effectively against counterfeiting problems. Companies are then able to assert their rights to the creations and innovations they produce.
Protect intellectual property rights
To protect intellectual property and industrial property, it is possible to use all the tools made available to companies. Creating a strong defense allows companies to ensure that they exploit their innovations under the best possible conditions and take full advantage of them.
Protection with legal deposits
Patent filings protect innovations of a technical nature. This then corresponds to a process or a product. The product which is the subject of a patent must be new, capable of being industrialized and the result of an inventive step.
Trademark registrations concern the name of companies, their products or their services. A sign, logo or writing model can be part of it.
The deposits of designs and models can concern a national, Community or international level. They can be very simple to deposit, depending on the conditions of the chosen deposit method.
Coverage without legal deposit
Authors’ rights are protected by the intellectual property code. The owner of a work can then determine the conditions under which it can be used throughout its life, and its beneficiaries may do so up to seventy years after its death.
Unfair competition is classified into four categories by case law: confusion, denigration, disorganization or parasitism.
Community designs that have not been registered enjoy a three-year protection period following the first disclosure in Europe.
Intellectual property advice
Creators should pay particular attention to intellectual property. It is a very valuable asset for young companies and is the basis for securing their growth.
Make sure you own your intellectual property
There are many players around a company who intervene and participate in intellectual property. Innovation then occurs most often at the start of the creation of the company. All of these elements generate risk factors directly linked to the ownership of intellectual property. The company must imperatively be the real owner. For this, it must follow several steps:
- A written agreement or a contribution in kind must allow the transfer of intellectual property to the company before its constitution.
- Employees will be bound by confidentiality and the employment contracts of those related to research and development will include an inventive mission clause.
- Relations with subcontractors must be the subject of a contractual framework that provides for the transfer of intellectual property to the company.
- Development contracts will be put in place with the partners.
Choose several protection modes
Each intellectual property may be the subject of a specific mode of protection. To do this, several tools are made available to companies:
- Patents: technical innovation.
- Copyrights: intellectual works such as music, films, software, books, etc.
- The trademark: protects the name of the company, of software or a product or service.
- Designs: the appearance of products.
- Trade secrets: protection linked to non-disclosure.
Intellectual property is a great advantage for companies that decide to exploit it. But above all, they must protect it if they do not want to experience losses and too much competition. To do this, they will have to make use of several tools and ensure that they are the sole owners of these creations and innovations.
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