Patent – to protect your product

Legal protection

A patent is a form, giving the owner the legal rights to use, and others not to use, manufacture, sell, import or export the product. The product is usually an innovative invention where the inventor sees an exclusive market for sales and the opportunity to make lots of money. A patent is not forever, it is limited to different times in different countries. In most countries patent falls under civil laws and the patent holder must sue the one breaking the patent. It is in the hands of the patent holder to make sure the rights are followed.

Different procedures in different countries

The procedure to get a patent differs between countries. It is the laws of each country and international agreements that controls how patents should work. Usually a patent application must contain several parameters defining the invention. The application has to be specific and meet some relevant demands for a patent. Examples to this can be that the product or invention is completely new to the market. Another example is that the product should be useful, that it is useful to the public. According to the TRIPS-deals of the WTO, World Trade Organizations, the patent should be available in all member countries. There are, however, large differences between the countries when it comes to deciding whether a product is up for patent. In the TRIPS-deal the time of a patent is also regulated up to at least 20 years.

History

The word patent comes from the Latin word patere, meaning “to lay open”. Historically a patent was something a monarch or government approved for specific people´s rights to an occupation or product. The first forms of patents derive from the 15th century Greece and the town of Sybaris, but the first registered patent system is known to be the Venetian Patent Order from 1474. The authorities made a decree which demanded that new inventions should be reported to the republic to protect against potential intruders. At the time the protection lasted for only ten years. In 16th century England the Crown started abusing the patent, making it a monopoly. King James I of England was forced to recall the state monopolies given and to explain that the rights should be with the inventor. This “Statute of Monopolies” from 1624 is the foundation of the legislation used today on patent laws.

Advantages to patent

A patent gives an incentive to the patent holders to develop and invest in their patent. It also gives an incentive to innovative people to develop their ideas into reality. A patent holder with a good product can, by letting other stakeholders manufacture the product with license, make money without putting in all the work themselves. By making money that way, the inventor can focus on either evolve the product or finance new inventions. Another effect of the modern patent system is to stimulate the market by creating competition. Other inventors create similar products alongside the patent, making the market stimulate into creating new products to the market.

Advantages to patent
Advantages to patent

Disadvantages

Of course, there are also disadvantages to a patent, one is that the patent holder, for example in the medical industry, can charge unreasonably high prices for their products, which can be life supporting medicine. It should never be about making money when it comes to people’s lives!

Brand protection

When you start your own business, whether it is in production or service, it is important to protect your brand. If your company is well-established with a good reputation, you want it to be safe so that no other company can put their fingers and logo on it. An example could be a Chinese motorcycle developer using the brand and logo of Harley Davidsons to sell their products. It is not only unethical, but also illegal since Harley Davidson is a registered trademark. When a brand is registered, and brand protected the owner has an exclusive right to use the brand.  

Registering a trademark

Filing for brand protection is made with the authorities in the country where you live or where your company is situated. When the application is approved you can proceed with brand protection in other countries. This is made by sending an application to WIPO, World Intellectual Property Organization. This is for countries affiliated with the “Madrid protocol” The protocol is a deal between countries regarding international trademarks and brand protection. Usually brand protection from the origin country is used in the rest of the world. When applicating for this you need to be very thorough in naming in what countries you want to protect your brand. After the application, every country decides whether the brand protection is valid in their country. Members of the European Union, EU, can apply for all countries at the same time. If one of the member countries declines the brand protection, it fails, and the company will have to apply in every country separately.  

Brand types
Brand types

Brand types

A brand, or trademark, can include all kinds of signs and letters that can be graphically reproduced. It can be logotypes, names, abbreviations, letters and numbers. A trademark can also be a package or even a shape. When you are registering a trademark, it is best to seek legal help with an authorized counsellor to make sure everything is properly done from the start. If you end up in a battle about it with another company or product it can be the difference between winning or losing if you have followed the procedures and rules from the beginning. A trademark can also be a so-called word-trademark, like FANTA and Windows NT. Word-trademarks can also be a combination of words, like LG or VAT69. A figure mark is a trademark containing a figure or a combination of words and a special font. A colour can also be of importance. A form or colour of a package can also be significant to a brand. The most famous trademark is probably Coca Cola and its significant glass bottle. Even a sound can be registered as a trademark. There are some demands to register a sound as a trademark, the sound has to be able to be reproduced graphically, for example as notes. Many short jingles are registered trademarks. Some examples are ringtones for mobile phones where you today can listen and hear whether the ringing phone is a Samsung, Huawei or iPhone that is ringing.

Fraud and corporate hi-jack

It has become more and more usual with frauds today, like corporate hi-jacks. Far from everyone reports that they have been subject for this kind of fraud, mostly because they believe that that kind of publicity can damage the company name and be bad for business and the brand. Even if the company hi-jackers are reported it is, most times, hard to find the one responsible for the crime why it is important to try to prevent this kind of crimes instead.  

Signification

The word, corporate hi-jack, can be explained by someone, unauthorized, taking control of the company. For example, they can by forging a signature change proxy for the company and in that way access everything and drain the company of its assets very quickly. This is of course a nightmare for every businessman. Of course, there are precautions to take to decrease the risk.  

Signs of hi-jacking

A fraud or hi-jack can be discovered in many different ways. The most common way is to get invoices or demands for payments that you have nothing to do with. The bank can send papers on transactions you have no idea what they are about. You can also notice a decrease or lack of money in your accounts, or strange withdrawals. Sometimes when you “Google” your company’s name you can see different phone numbers or emails than your own. It can also be detected when mail stop arriving because someone has made a change of address for the company.

Prevention
Prevention

Prevention

No matter what country you are situated in your company needs to be registered with the authorities. This is also where you turn to get advice on how to minimize the risk of being set up for fraud or hi-jacking. Instead of using conventional mail you can receive all your mail in an email-box and in that way minimize the risk of your mail being stolen and used to access classified information about the company. There are serious businesses that offer insurances and provide service against frauds. To know whether a company is serious you need to take references. Some services can be worth paying for. For example, a service regarding credit checking can give a heads up when something is happening in the company name regarding loans and checking. As usual you should, both as a civil person and a businessman, be very cautious of when and where you are giving out information such as card numbers or bank account numbers. To be on the safe side it is good to look at your safety when it comes to IT. Both software and firewalls. Another way to avoid disorders in IT is not to klick on attached links or enclosed files from unknown senders. E-legitimation is something that is used more every day for as well businesses as for individuals in contact with authorities.

Be careful with to whom or where you share your personal information!