|What are intellectual property rights?
Intellectual property rights are the rights given
to persons over the creations of their minds. They usually give the creator
an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period
Intellectual property rights are customarily divided
into two main areas:
(i) Copyright and rights related
to copyright. The rights of authors of literary and artistic works
(such as books and other writings, musical compositions, paintings, sculpture,
computer programs and films) are protected by copyright, for a minimum
period of 50 years after the death of the author. Also protected through
copyright and related (sometimes referred to as "neighbouring") rights
are the rights of performers (e.g. actors, singers and musicians), producers
of phonograms (sound recordings) and broadcasting organizations. The main
social purpose of protection of copyright and related rights is to encourage
and reward creative work.
(ii) Industrial property.
Industrial property can usefully be divided into two main areas:
- One area
can be characterized as the protection of distinctive signs, in particular
trademarks (which distinguish the goods or services of one undertaking
from those of other undertakings) and geographical indications (which identify
a good as originating in a place where a given characteristic of the good
is essentially attributable to its geographical origin). The protection
of such distinctive signs aims to stimulate and ensure fair competition
and to protect consumers, by enabling them to make informed choices between
various goods and services. The protection may last indefinitely, provided
the sign in question continues to be distinctive.
types of industrial property are protected primarily to stimulate innovation,
design and the creation of technology. In this category fall inventions
(protected by patents), industrial designs and trade secrets. The social
purpose is to provide protection for the results of investment in the development
of new technology, thus giving the incentive and means to finance research
and development activities. A functioning intellectual property regime
should also facilitate the transfer of technology in the form of foreign
direct investment, joint ventures and licensing. The protection is usually
given for a finite term (typically 20 years in the case of patents).
While the basic social objectives of intellectual
property protection are as outlined above, it should also be noted that
the exclusive rights given are generally subject to a number of limitations
and exceptions, aimed at fine-tuning the balance that has to be found between
the legitimate interests of right holders and of users.