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Do you know what’s IP in an enterprise, what it protects and how it is created?

IP (intellectual property) is a collection of various results of human intellectual activity, also called “intangible goods”. It can be divided in 3 subsets: copyright, industrial property and protection of other intangible assets, including combating unfair competition (protection of professional secrecy, know-how, protection against parasitic imitation), company rights, databases, Internet domains.

 

Copyrights relate to intangible goods called creations. This concept is understood very broadly and includes the manifestations of individual creative activity of a human being. Copyright protection begins when the creation is finished, without the author having to comply with any formalities, and is independent from the value, purpose, expression or form of the creation. Creations whose creator or co-creator is a Polish citizen or a citizen of a EU or EEA Member State and which have been published for the first time on Polish territory or in the Polish language, are protected by the Act on Copyright and Related Rights. Copyrights protection has a wide territorial range due to international conventions that Poland has ratified.

 

Industrial property consists of intellectual goods used in business activities and includes creative resolution of a given problem, technical or organizational solution in industry or related to the conducted activity. It is regulated, amongst others, by the Industrial Property Law. Out of items of industrial property, we can distinguish: inventions (protected by patent), utility models (protected by law), industrial designs (which have the right from registration), trademarks (protected by law), integrated circuit topographies (which have the right from registration). The difference between industrial property and copyright is that you need to register with the appropriate government office to ensure protection of industrial property.

 

The professional secrecy or know-how are protected by the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. The creation, use, management and protection of a company, i.e. the name under which the entrepreneur conducts business or professional activity, is governed mainly by the Civil Code. The matters of protecting and using databases are regulated in the Act on Database Protection. The use of Internet domains is regulated in the contracts concluded by subscribers with domain operators.

Did you know that IP is intangible and how this quality affects IP protection in your company?

A creation, invention, trademark… and other intangible goods do not have a physical form. This quality distinguishes them from material things, objects that can be carried, material manifestations, substrates of such good. A intangible good is something different than the sensually perceived material that expresses it and in which the good is incorporated and embodied. The consequence of the intangible nature of intellectual property is that the rights to the thing that is used to save, express or consolidate the property protected by intellectual property rights (e.g. flash drive, sheet of paper, computer disk) do not automatically give any rights to this property protected by IP rights. For example: by buying a book you do not acquire the right to use the entire work of the novel in any way, i.e. you cannot scan the novel and upload it on the Internet. The protection of rights to physical objects is governed by property rights (the most important of which is the right to ownership); property law never directly regulates the protection of intangible goods.

 

The entrepreneur should mind that by protecting the ownership of the subject, he does not always protect intellectual property, and by obtaining the work result from contractors, e.g. saved on a computer disk, he does not always obtain the intellectual property rights associated with its result.

Is IP protection part of your business strategy?

Strategic thinking means thinking about future. Regarding the company’s resources such as intangible goods constituting the intellectual property of this company, strategic thinking can take three directions: creating these resources, acquiring or maintaining them.

 

The IP protection strategy therefore includes:

  1. identification of key elements of the enterprise worth protecting, e.g. product, technology, brand
  2. distinguishing individual intangible goods and recognizing exclusive rights for these goods, such as a creation and copyrights associated with it, technical solution (inventions, utility models, know how) and related industrial property rights, distinctive signs, protection of the external form of the product (such as: brand, trademarks, transmission designs) and the right to the company and industrial property rights protecting them
  3. identification of authorized entities (creators, employers) and determination whether the entrepreneur obtained the rights from them
  4. determining the method of protection (formal or not) and determining the range of protection (material, temporary, territorial)
  5. cost-benefit analysis of the protection enabling the use of exclusive rights as defense and attack tools (e. g. combat against imitation)
  6. commercialization involving the sale of IP rights e. g. consent to the use of IP items (license) and bringing IP rights as an in-kind contribution to the company
  7. determination of share of IP in the value of the entire company

 

The IP protection strategy allows the company to achieve its business goals (in terms of covering a specific market, budget, product life expectancy, industry specifics, development plans) by choosing the right methods and costs. Thanks to a good strategy, it is possible, among others:

  1. to generate higher product prices
  2. to add income streams through licenses or selling IP rights
  3. to increase market credibility
  4. to attract or retain investors/partners
  5. to gain time for future technology development
  6. to prevent others from using your inventions without permission
  7. to potentially prevent competitors from entering the market
  8. to minimalize the likelihood of disputes related to IP and the consequences of its violations

Do you know what is protected by copyright, what is the “dualism” of copyright and why is copyright protection important for every enterprise?

The copyrighted works are, among others, expressed by words, mathematical symbols, graphic signs (literary, journalistic, scientific, cartographic and computer programs), they can be artistic, photographic, architectural, musical, audiovisual (including film). Copyright protection does not cover discoveries, ideas, procedures, methods and principles of operation as well as mathematical concepts.

 

Copyright is divided into personal rights (such as the right to authorship, work integrity), which are inalienable and always remain with the creator and property rights (such as the right to dispose and use of the work) that can be transferred to another person or charged with the right to use (Usufruct).

 

On the one hand, works are created by employees and associates as part of running an enterprise. On the other hand, it is necessary to use the works created by other entities to run the enterprise. Both the creation of own works and the use of other people’s works should be controlled by the entrepreneur as a part of the IP protection strategy.

Do you take care of purchasing copyrights?

Copyrights (e.g. for photos or texts published on social networks, blogs, websites, advertising materials, computer programs, product designs, logo or website graphics) can be transferred to other people by inheritance or on basis of a written contract. This contract should indicate the fields of exploitation, i.e. the ways in which the work will be used by the buyer, as well as specify the cost for each of them separately. Failure to comply with the written form or failure to specify fields of exploitation means that copyrights are not transferred to the buyer.