Intellectual Property (IP) simply refers to the creations of human mind which include inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, names and images used in commerce. There are two main categories: industrial property right and copyright. Industrial property right includes patents, trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indications. Copyright covers music, films, architectural design, literary works; such as poems, novels and also software, and artistic works; such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures. There are also rights related to copyright which include performing artists' right in their performance, phonogram producers' right in recordings and broadcasters' right in their radio and TV programs.
What's the connection between IP rights and Start-Ups?
A great deal of Start-Ups have brilliant ideas such as a new handy mobile app, software or an invention, but the success is beyond materialising these ideas. As it is stated above, IP rights are a kind of holy guardian for intellectual creations and when an idea is materialised, IP rights take the stage to provide protection and economic benefit to its creator. However, in case Start-Ups do not pay attention to such protection this might lead to the failure of a brilliant idea , the infringement of IP rights of others, and ultimately the loss of money or the whole business.
Ideas are important but ideas alone can't be protected
Ideas are the first step for IP rights but having a unique idea does not mean that one can prevent others from using it. Ideas or methods of doing business are not protected by IP rights. Therefore, it is essential to materialise an idea and create a product.
Various types of IP protection
There are various types of IP rights and the protection differs in each type of right. Also, there are different registry formalities and procedures.
- If a copyrighted work is created such as a mobile app or computer software, there is no compulsory registry and one owns the copyright and the protection at the time it is created. Nevertheless, there is a non-compulsory registry system at General Directorate of Copyright of Ministry of Culture and Tourism which provides a great ease of proof. General protection time is the lifetime of the author plus 70 years in Turkey.
- If an invention is created, it needs to be registered as a utility model or a patent for protection. Unless an invention is registered, there is no IP right and no protection for it. Administrative body for registration of utility models and patents is Turkish Patent Institute. Protection period starts at the time of application for registration and lasts 10 years for utility models and 20 years for patents.
- If an industrial design or a trademark is developed, there is also compulsory registry to own the right and enjoy the protection. Turkish Patent Institute is the competent body for registration of trademarks and industrial designs. Protection period for industrial designs is 5 years and it can be renewed 4 more times to a total of 25 years protection. Trademark registration provides 10 years protection time and it can be renewed for an unlimited time.
These registries are in effect only in Turkey. So, if you are planning to market your intellectual creation overseas consider registering your rights also in the related country or countries.
Depending on the type of intellectual creation, you may have to provide protection before sharing your creation with the public. It is possible for others to use your idea or creation and register it on their behalf. Even if you do not have a marketable product, take it serious and consider methods of legal protection.
As a young business, you may go to meetings with many of investors, potential customers, manufacturers, companies and people but before you start discussing your idea, creation or product, make them sign a non-disclosure/confidentiality agreement. Even if you go to a meeting with a big trustworthy company, have some respect for your intellectual creation and get an agreement in writing.
Be aware of others' IP rights
As you make out an intellectual creation, you might use or inspire from others' ideas or creations but don't forget others have also their own IP rights. Therefore, you have to license the part you use. Otherwise, actions for infringement might loom large on the horizon.
IP rights are essential for Start-Ups and most of the time they are ignored. However, they can secure your start-up company's future and ignoring them might even cause your company to collapse. Therefore, it is for your benefit to take IP rights issue into consideration starting from the very beginning of your company's set up.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.