Brand Protection

Brand Protection-Trademark, Copyright, and Patent Trademark

What is a Trademark?

It is a way of distinguishing a unique commodity (service or product). It plays a significant role in differentiating a business from other businesses.

A trademark, also known as a brand, can help your clients distinguish the quality and uniqueness of your commodities over those of your competitors.

It can be in the form of a letter, aspect of packaging, number, movement, word, picture, phrase, logo, sound, shape as well as smell. It can also be a combination of two or more of these.

If you own a trademark, you are expected to actively make use of it during trading activities. Failure to do this may result in removal or withdrawal of IP rights due to non-use.

Types of Trademarks

A trademark can be your company logo, business name, a word written in fancy or plain form, form of packaging, phrase, picture, letter and/or number. Others include certification, series, sound, movement, shape, color and scent trademarks.

Why should I register a trademark?

There are various reasons why a trademark ought to be registered.

It can prove to be the most valuable tool of marketing you will ever have. Also known as a brand, it is essentially your primary identity. The value of a trademark is directly proportional to the success of your business.

You can create a trademark and even make use of it in promotional campaigns without or before registering it. You are also at liberty to add the letters “TM” to product labels. Even though it is legal to engage in the two aforementioned activities, you won’t have intellectual property protection unless and until it is duly registered.

The “R” symbol is strictly carried by registered trademarks. Placement of the symbol just next to a brand notifies other parties to respect the trademark.

Even though you won’t be penalized for making use of the “TM” symbol before registering a trademark, using the “R” symbol attracts a penalty.

Copyright

Introduction

Copyright is the exclusive rights that a person has to reproduce, offer for sale or publish original authorship work. The work may be literary, architectural, musical, artistic and/ or dramatic.

Copyright law only covers the aspect of material expression rather than the actual facts, concepts, techniques and ideas in that work. That is why an authorship work can only enjoy copyright protection if it’s fixed in tangible form.

Rights of a copyright owner

Copyright law primarily aims to protect/ safeguard the time, creativity as well as effort of the creator of authorship work. Therefore, the law exclusively gives the owner of copyright certain rights. They include the right of reproducing the work, preparing derivative works with a basis on the original, publicly displaying the work and distributing copies of the authorship work by selling, leasing or other ways of transferring ownership as well.

Additionally, the owner of copyright has the right of authorizing other parties to undertake one or more of the aforementioned rights. He/she also has the liberty and capacity of transferring the exclusive rights or sub-division of rights to other parties.

Registering your copyright

The creator of work can secure copyright protection even without registering with the state’s copyright office. However, there are several advantages of registering your copyright.

It provides the general public with an official record of your claim. Registration also enables the owner to pursue legal action in court in case of infringement. Additionally, it gives the owner ability to recoup attorney’s fees as well as statutory damages in case of a lawsuit.

Copyright notice

Even though issuance of a copyright notice was previously a requirement under the law, the Berne Convention rendered it unnecessary for work created after 1st March 1989.

Nevertheless, a copyright notice notifies the general public that the authorship work is protected. Additionally, it notifies concerned parties about the year of first publication and owner of the work as well.

Another reason why you ought to issue a copyright notice is in the event that a violation case is filed in court, the defendant will be in no position to claim that the infringement was innocently or ignorantly done.

Patent

A patent is an exclusive right given by a federal government that allows the inventor to restrict others from making, utilizing or selling that invention for a definite period of time.The system is specially designed to promote useful and unique inventions..

Categories

Patents can be classified into the following broad categories: 1. Utility patents-given to new processes, machines as well as chemicals. 2. Plant patents- given to inventors of distinct varieties of plants that undergo asexual reproduction.

Patentable inventions

An invention is considered patentable if it’s non-obvious and also novel.

An invention is considered novel when it’s substantially distinct from others in more than one part. Additionally, it mustn't have been used, patented or offered for sale by any other inventor within 12 months of the date when the application was officially filed. This requirement encourages inventors to disclose technological progress at the earliest opportune time.

An invention is considered non-obvious if a skilled individual in that field of invention considers or strongly believes that the development is absolutely surprising and unexpected.

Usefulness

A utility patent can only be obtained by an inventor who, upon application, provides proof of the invention’s usefulness.

The invention must not only be operable, but also beneficial. For instance, a machine that fails to operate to execute its purpose wouldn't be given a patent because it can’t be useful.

On the other hand, you can obtain a utility patent for a useful invention if it can be classified under any of the following categories; a process, composition of matter, machine, manufacture or improvement of the aforementioned.

Examples of items that can be patented

The following are things that can be patented: computer software, computer hardware, musical instruments, chemical formula, chemical processes, fabrics, designs of fabrics, genetically modified animals, plants and organisms, jewelry, drugs, furniture design and medical devices, among other items.

Applying for protection

To obtain patent rights, you must make a formal application. They don’t automatically arise.

The inventor is required to make a formal application within 12 months of disclosing the invention to the general public, such as offering it to interested buyers or publishing a detailed description.

An inventor ought to make a preliminary search for the patent before filing an application to establish the feasibility of proceeding with the patent application.

The requisite fee and application are handed over to the relevant government body, where patent examiners review the applications.

Patent infringement

In the event that an inventor has reason to believe that an individual or organization has made use of the patent invention without or before seeking permission, the inventor may sue the infringer in a court of law.

If the court finds the defender guilty of infringement, it may compensate the plaintiff with costs, damages and attorney’s fees. The court may also issue an injunction against further infringement of the inventor’s patent rights.