The Things That Can Be Stolen Without Being Taken

Atty. Rami Hourani

Intellectual property rights are a finicky thing to have to explain to lay people in the Philippines. The subtlety of the difference that exists between the different kinds is often lost and the concepts are mentioned in place of each other with reckless abandon. This article will function as a short plain language explainer of the largest concepts in intellectual property law: Copyright, Patent, and Trademark.

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Hard working businessmen know that there is no substitute to the handwork needed to build up a good client base. You know you’ve made considerable process when the name of your business is passed around in recommendations as a placeholder for convenience and quality. However, it is a trivial matter for someone else to assume the name of another’s business and benefit by the good will they have built for themselves. In order for the creator of the mark to be entitled to relief as against the person who uses his mark, he must first prove that the mark is his. A registered trademark abbreviates this process because the person in whose name a registered mark exists is presumed its owner. This is the practical value of the registration of a trademark.

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A copyright is a legal protection granted to literary and/or artistic works. This grants an exclusive right to the artist to sell copies of his work, hence the name “copy-right“. There are many exceptions to the right granted to artists and/or creators: Fair Use, Satire/Parody, Useful Articles among others. Copyright is perhaps the least understood amongst these legal concepts. It is prone to misinterpretation by lay people. The period for copyright protection is 50 years.

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A patent is the most difficult of the various kinds of protection to procure. This is because it is designed to secure to an inventor an exclusive right to the industrial application of his invention. This means that it must be an invention in the truest sense of the word and not merely an improvement on an existing design without what is referred to as an “inventive step”.

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Stated simply: A trademark is for businessmen, a copyright is for artists, and a patent is for an inventor. These registration mechanisms allow a person greater facility in profiting by their intellectual creations.

Atty. Hourani practices law in Cebu City, PhilippinesIf you would like to set an appointment with him, you may reach him here.

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