Answering Frequently Asked Questions About Intellectual Property

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(Image courtesy: famt.ac.in)

Intellectual property protection is critical in fostering innovation. Without protection of ideas, businesses and individuals would not reap the full benefits of their inventions and would focus less on research and development. Similarly, artists would not be fully compensated for their creations and cultural vitality would suffer as a result.

And so to help artists, inventors and players in the industry in Liberia to understand some basic terms of IP, we are launching this series.

Who grants protection?

Intellectual Protection is granted by virtue of registration by the Government of Liberia through the Liberia Intellectual Property Office (LIPO), with the issuance of a certificate of registration of creations or corporation works, after completing all the steps and procedure and payment of prescribed fees required for registration.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual Property very broadly means the legal rights which result from intellectual activity in industrial, scientific, literary and artistic fields. (WIPO, 2008)  Intellectual Property is divided into two categories:

  1. INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY includes patent for inventions, trademark, industrial designs and geographical indications (GI).
  1. COPYRIGHT covers literary work such as (Novels, poems and plays) films, music, artistic, (e.g. Drawings, paintings, photograph, sculpture and architecture design). Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonographs in their recordings and broadcaster in their radio and television programs. Copyright also covers folklore, which is traditional cultural expression, songs, poems etc. and finally copyright covers traditional knowledge.

What are Intellectual Property Rights?

Intellectual Property rights are like any other property rights. They allow creators or owners of patents, trademarks or copyrighted works to benefit from their own work or investment in a creation. These rights are outlined in Article 27 of the universal declaration of Human Rights, which provides for the right to benefit from the protection of moral and material interest resulting from authorship of scientific, literary or artistic productions.

Why promote and protect Intellectual Property?

There are several compelling reasons. First, the progress and wellbeing of humanity rest on its capacity to create and invent new works in the areas of technology and culture. Second, the legal protection of new creation encourages the commitment of additional resources for further innovations. Third, the promotion of Intellectual Property Spurs economic growth, create new jobs and industries and enhance the quality and enjoyment of life.

What is a Patent?

A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, a product or process that provides a new way of doing something or that offers new technical solutions to a problem.

A patent provides patent owners with the protection of their new inventions. Protection is granted for a limited period, generally 20 years.

Who grants Patent?

Patent is granted by the National Patent Office called the Liberia Intellectual Property Office (LIPO) upon filing of a patent application that includes but not limited to title of invention, indication of its technical field, the background and description of the invention; such descriptions are usually accompanied by visual materials such as drawings, plans or diagrams that describe the invention in greater details. Claims are also included to help determine the scope of the patent protection.

What is Utility Model?

An exclusive right granted for an invention, which allows the right holder to prevent others from commercially using the protected invention without his authorization for a limited period of time. It is sometimes referred to as petit patent, small patent incremental patent, etc.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a distinctive sign that identifies certain goods or service produced or provided by an individual or company. Trademark has three (3) characteristic and they are original, distinctive, and non-descriptive.

Kinds of trademark

A trademark may be one or a combination of words, letters, and numerals. They may consist of drawings, symbols or three dimension signs such as the shape and packaging of goods.

How long is trademark protection?

Trademark protection is done for a period of ten (10) years in accordance with Sub-Part B, section 10.9 of the 2016 Intellectual Property Act. Subsequent renewal of additional ten (10) years can be done after the expiration of the first ten (10) years through application for renewal and payment of the prescribed fees.

What is a mark?

Mark means any visible sign capable of distinguishing the goods (trademark) or services (service mark) from one enterprise to that of another enterprise.

What is Collective Mark?

Collective Mark means any visible sign designated as such in the application for registration and capable of distinguishing the owner, which are associations whose members use them to be identified. Example: Accounting Associations engineer or architects Associations.

 What is a trade Name?

Trade Name means the name of designation identifying and distinguishing one enterprise to that of the other.

To be continued in next edition on Thursday, May 3, 2018.

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