How the IP system is supporting creativity in business

25 April 2016

Tomorrow marks World IP Day (26th April) and we’re celebrating at Haseltine Lake! The world IP systems have come a long way since the start of World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) and the European Patent Office, and we’ve reviewed how these systems support and drive creativity and innovation within business today.

With the UK’s strong reputation for creativity and technology, it is vitally important that the legal systems in place support and encourage this, ensuring UK based businesses can enjoy success without the fear of someone copying their design – in the UK, Europe or around the world.

Through many different forms, intellectual property enables people and businesses to differentiate their ideas, protect their innovation and secure financial benefit from what they invent or create – for example, through patents, designs rights and trademarks. By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and the wider public, the IP system aims to offer an environment where creativity and innovation can flourish.

Something incredibly useful for protecting the outward appearance of a product is the Registered Community Design (sometimes known as an RCD). This can be used to protect the unique look of anything from fashion and homeware to product shape/features to decorative and graphic artistry. A “Registered Design” is a single right that protects the design throughout the European Union and provides the opportunity to extend the protection through additional application procedures to other parts of the world such as America and China (for example) – locations where there may be greater potential for copying or infringement.

Another important tool to protect creativity and innovation is the trade mark– used to protect the unique logo, style and signage of a business. Registration of either a UK or a European trade mark allows the owner to strike back at anyone who may be trying to trade using a closely similar style or logo within the territory and to benefit unfairly from the goodwill associated with the company’s brand. Like Registered Designs, registered trade marks can be extended into other markets and territories to safeguard the identity of your business across the globe.  

One form of IP right which is perhaps less well known and understood internationally is theUtility Model. This is an exclusive right granted for a specific invention, allowing the inventor to prevent others from copying or infringement for a specified period of time. It’s a sort of mini-patent, but of shorter duration (typically 10 years) and generally with less stringent patentability criteria to be met than for a conventional patent. This means that they are usually easier, quicker, and cheaper to apply for. 

A form of Utility Model known as the Innovation Patent was recently introduced in Australia, as a result of extensive research there into the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises. The stated aim is to provide a ‘low-cost entry point’ into the intellectual property system. This illustrates the way in which IP systems throughout the world continue to develop and evolve.

IP systems were developed around the time of the Industrial Revolution to enable creativity and innovation to thrive throughout the world, and they have been adapting and developing ever since to do just that. As we celebrate World IP Day tomorrow, we can feel reassured that IP rights continue to change in line with the developing innovation landscape and that the enforcement of the well-established IP rights of patents, trademarks and designs is becoming stronger, more consistent and more closely aligned across the developed world than ever before. 

Our Expert

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