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What IP is and main IPRs

Intellectual Property (IP) is, in very simple terms, a set of exclusive rights granted1 by State authorities to creators of new ideas. Under the general notion of IP, there are different types of exclusive rights, which are suitable for different types of creations. By way of example:

  • PATENTS are used to protect new inventions, i.e. new products or processes that represent technical solutions to existing technical problems. Smaller and less revolutionary inventions are protected as Utility Models.
  • TRADEMARKS are used to protect signs that distinguish the products/services of a company or a physical person from those of competitors. They can take the form of one or more words, a logo, an image or a mixture of all these elements.
  • INDUSTRIAL DESIGNS are used to obtain exclusive rights over the ornamental shape of utilitarian products and are particularly useful to protect efforts to improve the visual appearance of products.
  • COPYRIGHT protects original creations in the artistic and literary field. By way of example, your company’s written materials such as brochures, advertisements, reports, the software that was produced on your behalf, and anything that you write or draw with your pen or computer are automatically protected by copyright. Instead, the exclusive rights of persons and companies that contribute to the spreading of copyrighted words (such as Performers, Phonograms Producers and Broadcasting Organisations) are protected by Related Rights.
  • GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS protect signs that indicate that a product originates in a given geographical area and its qualities, reputation, or other characteristics are essentially due to its geographical origin.
  • TRADE SECRETS protect any confidential business information that provides a company with a competitive advantage (precisely because it is kept secret). By way of example, more effective after–sales or marketing strategies, list of customers with their contact details and commercial preferences, etc. qualify for protection as trade secrets DOMAIN NAMES protect the core part of your internet address. Often, but not always, domain names encompass your (main) mark.

Each IP right above gives you EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS over the outcome of your innovation. In other words (and subject to certain exceptions):

  • Your innovation will be protected from your competitors in the market;
  • Your innovation remains yours, and no one else can use it; and
  • Anyone wishing to utilize your protected IPRs will have to obtain your prior authorization (and, of course, you will be able to determine the corresponding economic conditions

These exclusive rights are your compensation and reward for your innovative endeavours, which almost systematically involve not only creativity, but also significant costs. However, it is crucial to remember that IP rights are territorial in nature. This fundamental principle, known as Principle of TERRITORIALITY, implies that you are protected only in those countries where your IP rights have been duly filed and registered. As a consequence, if you plan to export your products or services to a new country, make sure to protect your relevant IPRs there before commencing commercialisation. Otherwise you will not be protected in the new country and anyone would be able to copy your innovative product or service.


Yes, your IPRs, when registered, are equivalent to a … LAND WITH A STRONG FENCE: YOU OWN WHAT IS INSIDE!

What is IP

[1] Or “recognized” in the case of copyright (in view of the principle of automatic protection).

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