The world is increasingly moving towards an economy based on intangible properties. Now, the principal capital of a lot of major industries is not tangible property like land, machineries etc., rather it is their intellectual properties. Bangladesh is no exception to that global change. From 2010 onwards, the parliament of Bangladesh has enacted a number of legislations on intellectual properties that provide for both registration and means for commercialization thereof. This article shall focus on the ways how the businesses, both large and SMEs, can commercialize their intellectual properties and protect them while doing so. In doing so, the article shall highlight four main kinds of intellectual properties: trademark, copyright, design, and patent.
The proprietor of a trademark has the exclusive right to exploit his trademark in good and/or services for 7 years subject to renewal time to time. During this time, the proprietor can sell, use, transfer, or commercialize his trademark by different mechanism. For example, he may make a licensing agreement with another person in exchange of a fee, or there can be one assignment of such rights. The Trademark Act 2009 refrains from using the term ‘license'. Despite such silence, a registered proprietor and an intending user can jointly apply to the Department of Patent, Designs, and Trademark (DPDT). They need to attach a licensing agreement, and an affidavit with the application.
If a person has written an original artistic, dramatic, literary, or musical work, he can submit an application to the Copyright Office for grant of a copyright against that particular work. The literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works other than photographs get the copyright protection for the lifetime of the author plus 60 years from the death of the author. These are the major properties of digital studios, book publishers, software developers. The proprietors of these properties can commercially benefit from such intangible properties. They can wholly or partially assign the ownership of the copyright to business entities who has the ability to commercially exploit and generate profits. The assignment agreement will generally prescribe the period for which such assignment shall be effective. If nothing is mentioned, then the tenure of the copyright will be 5 years.
Broadcast organizations and performers can also gain from commercially exploiting their copyright works. No person can re-broadcast, make fixation of such broadcast, sell or hire such broadcast works without permission of the proprietor of broadcast right. The performer can also benefit from the system because no person can, without prior consent of the performer, make a fixation of his/her performance or reproduce such performance. However, the author of copyright can license these rights to a third party on fixed conditions in exchange of fees. In such licensing agreements, the parties can fix and negotiate the terms and conditions of such licensing.
Design means the features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament applied to any article by any industrial process or means, whether manual, mechanical or chemical, separate or combined, which if judged solely by the eye result in an attractive finished article. Although the patent portion of the Patents and Designs Act 1911 has been repealed, the design portion remains effective till date. The law grants 5 years protection from the date of registration subject to two subsequent renewals. The copyright granted against such designs can be commercially exploited by assignments and licenses. The owner of the copyright has to register such licensing contract in the DPDT.
Patent is awarded to a person for scientific invention which is significantly novel from the existing prior art. A grant of patent ensures that the owner of the invention is protected from any sort of infringement for at least 20 years. During this time period, the owner of the patent can commercially benefit from it. One such way can be licensing such patent to different persons from different regions and take fee for such service. To do that, it is important that the licensing agreement is submitted to the DPDT registrar. Thus, there are two requirements: making the licensing agreements compliant with the Patents Act 2022 and submitting the licensing agreement to the DPDT for registration. Lawyers with sharp eyes can make sure that such agreements are negotiated keeping their interest in mind.
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.