At different stages during the development of your business, you may need to register some form of intellectual property protection so that it cannot be imitated. Intellectual property (IP) refers to the works that are created such as; inventions, product designs, logos, and literary and artistic works. But what is the difference between Trademark, Copyright, & Patents and when are they needed? This blog outlines the various type of protection available to your Irish company and which products or services may require additional protection.
Which Content Requires a Registered Trade Mark?
Content that can be trademarked is typically related to your brand identity, items include brand-names, symbols, logos, and certain words or phrases such as taglines or slogans. These items are often used to distinguish a product or service from its competitors. If you do not seek a trademark for this content it will be left vulnerable to competitors who wish to steal or copy it. A registered trademarked cannot bear significant similarity to another.
Before making an application to register your trademark a search can be performed of the existing trademarks and pending applications to ensure no identical or similar mark exists. A specialist third party can search both the National Trade Mark Database and the European Union Trade Mark Database which contains trade marks protected in all 28 European Union member states.
A basis for delay or refusal would be if there are any existing trademarks that are too similar or if a larger company were to lodge an objection.
Should I Copyright my Work?
A copyright can be attained for tangible creative works. Creative ideas that exist in an abstract form cannot be protected but once the idea leaves the person’s mind and is committed to material form, either written or recorded in an identifiable way then it can be copyrighted. A copyright is the exclusive property right granted to the creator or owner of a work. It applies to multiple creative work types, including:
- computer programmes
- original databases
- the layout and design of published editions
- broadcasts, films, and audio recordings
- original artistic, dramatic, literary, or musical compositions
When Copyright protection can be granted for works which are typed, written, sung, filmed, or played.
When works are created under contract or employment of another, ownership belongs to the company upon payment for the work. The parties may create a contract to handle the ownership in another way, such as joint ownership or in a way that the creator retains ownership. An owner can license, transfer or sell the copyrighted property, this allows the property owner the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit others from copying the work, sharing it publicly or making adaptations.
Should I Patent my inventions or innovation?
Patents are used to protect a creation or innovation by preventing others from producing and selling imitations. A Patent is an industrial property right that protects the invention in whole or in part for a limited term. In Ireland, a registration lasts for 20 years or a “short-term” registration lasting ten years. Beginning in the third year, the owner is required to pay annual renewal fees to maintain the registration.
Registration of a patent prohibits others from; making the item, using the design, selling the item without the explicit consent of the owner. A patent is similar to a copyright in that it can be assigned, licensed, transferred or used by its owner. The registration provides property rights in Ireland only, to protect the design in other countries would require filing there, in addition.
The term “patent pending” refers to an open application. The patent pending status lets competitors know the design has been filed with the Irish Patents Office, but the application process is not yet completed. However, protection is assumed at the patent pending stage and no patent will be granted for a similar invention.
Is my Limited Company or Business name protected?
One of the benefits of incorporating an Irish limited company is that the company name is protected. When a company is registered it must choose a name that significantly different from other companies on the register. The Companies Registration Office (CRO) grant the final approval of limited company names and they will restrict other companies from registering a name that is too similar to a name that is already registered. However, trade names which are registered under a limited company are not grated this same protection. This also applies to individuals operating under a business name as a Sole Trader. In many cases, trade names can be protected with the registration of a trademark.
Do I need to protect my website Domain/URL?
Once a particular domain name is purchased ‘example.ie’ the name will be unavailable to competitors as long as you remember to renew your purchase each year. However, domain names are considered intellectual property and can be further protected with trademark registration.
.ie is a country code top-level domain that ensures information is delivered to an Irish audience. Please note that other country code domains will not be secured and must be purchased separately including; example.com, example.eu, example.net, example.co.uk, etc. It is recommended to search the available domains before choosing the best URL for your business. Domain Name Registration in Ireland. On March 2018, Ireland’s Domain Registry has relaxed the rules removing the ‘claim to the name’ requirement so Ireland’s small offices, home offices, and micro businesses can register a .ie domain faster and easier.
Intellectual Property (IP) protection is a powerful tool giving individuals and businesses the right to ensure their property rights are secured. Ireland has a strong legal framework surrounding intellectual property protection, allowing the right holders to maintain control. The Irish Patents Office is responsible for granting patents and trade marks, registration of industrial designs, and has certain functions in relation to copyrights. The Intellectual Property Unit of the Irish Patents Office is responsible for Ireland’s policy, legislation and practice both domestically and at the EU level to which include various international agreements.
Company Bureau can advise the right course of action when seeking a patent, trademark or copyright for your IP. Call us today on +353 16874519 or Contact Us to learn more.