Intellectual Property Week is being observed around the world from April 22 to 26. Intellectual property (IP) refers to original creations of the mind, including works of art, poetry, choreography, signage and inventions.
It has often been said that Jamaicans are not short of creativity; therefore, it is important for people to know the different options available for protecting the works they have created. The Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) is responsible for IP protection locally. There are three ways to protect your intellectual property: by copyright, patent and trademark. This Tip Thursday, we give you some information that can help you protect your original work.
Copyright – Works protected by copyright are original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, sound recordings, films, broadcasts or cable programme, typographical arrangements of published editions.
Patent – Patents protect inventions, which are defined under the Patent Act, 1857, is “any new and useful process, machines, manufacture or composition of matters or any new and useful improvement thereof.”
Trademark – The Trade Marks Act, 1999, defines a trade mark as “any sign that is capable of being graphically represented and capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking (i.e. any person, company or business entity) from those of another undertaking.”
Here’s how you can protect your original work:
- Do your research. It is important to first educate yourself and make sure you understand the type of IP protection required for your creation. It will help you avoid filing for the wrong form of protection, such as trying to trademark an artistic work. Additionally, before you are allowed to register for copyright, patent or trademark protection, it must be clear that no identical item is already on the books. You or your representative will need to do a thorough search at JIPO or request the agency to do the search for you.
- File for protection as early as possible. This reduces the chance that someone else with the same or a very similar idea will beat you to the punch and prevent you from legally using something you have worked so hard to create. This is especially important if you are planning to register a trademark, as it belongs to the person who files for protection first, whether or not he or she is the earliest creator of the work.
- Invest in legal counsel. Working with a lawyer who specialises in intellectual property matters will help make the application process smoother.
- Consider a non-disclosure agreement. This can help protect your property by barring anyone you have shared the idea with, such as employees or potential sponsors you have approached, from sharing or using it for their own benefit.
- Easy copyright. The simplest, easiest way to establish copyright is to mail a copy of the work to yourself in a sealed, self-addressed envelope by registered mail. The unopened envelope containing a copy of the work can be submitted in court as evidence linking the work with the person claiming authorship. This is an internationally accepted procedure.