Intellectual Property

Overview of Copyright

Copyright seeks to protect the form of expression of ideas and not the ideas themselves as such (ideas may be protected by confidentiality or be a Patent). The primary purpose of copyright law is to reward authors for the creation of original works, that is, works where the author has expended independent effort to create the work.

Overview of Design Right

Design right protects the appearance of a purely functional product. Examples of items protected by design right are functional articles with no aesthetic appeal such as agricultural tools. Different parts of the same article may or may not be protected: in the case of a hot water bottle, for example, design right might extend to particular features of the bottle such as its shape, the shape of the nozzle or a combination of these features, but it would not apply to any printed pattern on the surface of the bottle which was there only as decoration.

Overview of Passing Off

The “classic form” of passing off involves a three-part test. This “classical trinity” test was described by Lord Oliver in the Jif Lemon case (Reckitt & Colman Products Ltd v Borden Inc [1990] UKHL 12):

A goodwill or reputation attached to the goods or services. A misrepresentation by the defendant to the public (whether or not intentional) leading or likely to lead the public to believe that the goods or services offered by him are the goods or services of the claimant. Damage to the claimant, by reason of the erroneous belief engendered by the defendant’s misrepresentation that the source of the defendant’s goods or services is the same as the source of those offered by the claimant.

Overview of Patents

A patent enables its owner to exploit the patented technology exclusively, either on its own account or by licensing the technology to third parties. Patents can be extremely valuable assets, especially in certain sectors, such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, industrial chemicals and electronics, and particularly if the patentee is prepared to invest the time and money necessary to protect them.

Overview of trade marks

A valuable commercial asset.

Commercially exploitable.

Relatively easy to protect and enforce.

A deterrent to infringers.

Renewable indefinitely.

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