Why and how to protect your business's intellectual property

Posted on 13 Dec 2017

Intellectual property (IP) rights are much more crucial for the survival and growth of a business than entrepreneurs may think. In demanding markets of our time, companies have to provide their clients with more and more innovative ideas of products and services in order to succeed. Nevertheless, due to the cut-throat competition amongst them, companies can very easily be put at risk of having these ideas, products or services stolen. Τhis is even more true nowadays because of the unprecedented, increased usage of the Internet and e-commerce by businesses of all types.

Not only is IP the best way to protect businesses’ ideas, products and services, but it also provides more than just protection; companies can obtain, through IP mechanisms, a business asset that may be extremely essential to the business and its viability. As follows, their ideas may represent one of their most important business assets. It is worth mentioning that Google’s trademark, which is ranked first among the most profitable trademarks on the Forbes List is valued at $44.3 billion.

As a first step, in order to safeguard a company’s IP rights, an overall strategy must be set and followed by the company in relation to IP matters. The truth is that the only way to protect a business’s IP rights is to enforce them and this can be achieved in three ways: by trademark, by patent or by copyright. As described below, each of these different types of IP rights protect something very certain.

A trademark protects the name or symbol with which the business carries out its activities. A trademark can be a word, a phrase, a symbol or a design, which identifies and differentiates the business’ source of products and services from those of other businesses. Thus, the trademark is a unique mark which the business has developed to brand its products and services and by registering the trademark it is protected from being used and exploited by others.

A patent protects an invention of the business. It is actually a property right with limited lifetime. By registering a patent, the inventor excludes others from making, using or selling his patented invention for a period of 20 years from the date on which the patent application is filed. Employers must be alert as their employees’ contracts must state that the rights to inventions developed by employees during their employment - and in some cases even after - are owned by the company.

Depending on the protection needed by the business at each case, trademarks as well as patents can be protected by registration in the following ways: on a national level - through the Department of Registrar of Companies and Official Receiver of Cyprus, at the European level - through the Office of Harmonization of Internal Market (OHIM), and on an international level - through the Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), depending on the protection needed by the business in each case.

A copyright protects the usage and exploitation of a work. Copyrights exist automatically and no registration is required in Cyprus. Copyright law protects Cypriot nationals’ works published worldwide and works of nationals of foreign countries that are published in Cyprus. The owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce and offer his work for sale and, if anyone infringes this right, the creator is entitled to seek injunctions or compensation against him. Although copyrights are owned automatically, the inventor may need to prove the copyright ownership by bringing evidence before the Court showing that he is the original author of the work.

Our expertise can provide any legal information related to IP, and offers IP litigation services and assistance for any application in relation to any registration, administration, maintenance, search, oppositions, renewals and claims for any IP rights. These include, but are not limited to, trademarks, industrial designs, patents, copyrights either in Cyprus, Europe or internationally. The content of this article intends to provide an overview of the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought on each particular case. For any further information, please contact Persa Costa at persa@kyprianou.com.cy