WHAT IS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Every person has a legal right to his/her unique, literary, artistic or scientific creation, just as they would to any other type of property or possession. The right arising out of such creations of the human mind is known as "Intellectual Property".
If you think you have come up with an innovation or you are starting a business, a very important issue which you should carefully consider is the matter of protecting any "intellectual property" which might be involved.
Your intellectual property is a most valuable part of your business and you should spare no effort to protect it, or at the very least, learn more about your rights and how you can benefit from the intellectual property system.
Intellectual property may be classified into eight (8) categories as follows: Trademarks, Patents, Trade Secrets, Industrial Designs, Integrated Circuits, Copyright, Geographical Indicators, and Plant Breeder’s Rights.
Apart from copyright and trade secrets, all of the abovementioned intellectual property rights may be registered in Barbados through the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO).
Remember that if your goods or services are exported to overseas markets, your intellectual property rights should also be registered in the various markets in which your goods or services are traded, since registration of your rights in Barbados alone will not give you rights in other countries.
A trademark is a visible sign, word or a symbol such as a logo or a slogan used on or in relation to particular goods or services in the course of trade or business, for the purpose of distinguishing the goods or services of one person or entity from those of other people or entities .
Registering a Trademark
To protect your chosen trademark, it must be registered with the proper authority in the country in which you will be selling or marketing your goods or services. Registration is good initially for ten (10) years and a trademark may be renewed indefinitely for further periods of ten (10) years on application to the Registrar of CAIPO. During the period of registration, the owner can: Legally prevent unauthorised use of the registered mark by other people; Prevent use of a sign which so nearly resembles the mark as would be likely to mislead the public, or assign or license the mark to another person.
Once your trademark is registered, then if your rights are infringed, you can obtain a court injunction to stop the offending person or people from using your trademark or you can initiate legal proceedings to have the person or people pay you a monetary compensation for the infringement.
A patent is an official document issued by a government office which establishes the ownership of an invention and provides the owner with exclusive rights, for a stated period, to prevent any other person from using the invention without the consent of the owner. For the purpose of a patent, an invention is an idea that provides or enables a practical solution to a specific problem in technology. It can be or it can relate to a product or a process. Examples of this are the calculator, the radio and the light bulb or any other gadget, tool, pharmaceutical preparation or a piece of equipment designed for a particular function.
Registering a Patent
To protect your patent, it must be registered with the proper authority in the country in which you will be operating. Registration is good for a period of twenty years and during that time, the owner of a patent can: Prevent unauthorised trading or exploitation of the invention; Assign the invention, or Grant a licence to others to use or exploit the invention.
Once your patent is registered, then if your exclusive rights are infringed, you can obtain a court injunction to stop the unauthorised person or people from using or exploiting your invention or you can initiate legal proceedings to have the person or people pay you monetary compensation for the infringement.
Barbados is a party to two international treaties which can assist you in having your inventions protected in countries apart from Barbados. Under the Paris Convention of 1883 and the Patent Co-operation Treaty of 1970, patents can be registered in countries participating in the Treaties. To apply for patent protection in participating countries, you should engage the service of a competent attorney to assist you. CAIPO will also advise you on the steps you should take.
A trade secret is confidential information which meets the following criteria: Having an economic and commercial value, not being generally known or readily ascertainable, efforts have been made to keep the information confidential, an existing relationship between a holder of confidential information and another person who is given the information that gives rise to a legal obligation not to disclose.
A trade secret may be a plan, a process, a tool, a mechanism, a compound or a secret formula that is known only to the owner or those employees in whom it is necessary to confide. It is usually part of some article of trade, having a commercial value, which is used in the individual's business and gives a potential advantage over competitors.
A Trade Secret cannot be registered. There is no system for registering a trade secret because registration would necessarily involve some form of disclosure and would in itself mean that the secret is no longer a secret. Even selling a product in a form from which the secret can be easily discerned or deduced (say, by reverse engineering) could compromise your trade secret. The key to protecting your trade secret is to take sufficient precautions to guard its secrecy.
An industrial design is: Any composition of lines or colours or any three dimensional form whether or not associated with lines or colours. Such a design gives a special appearance to a product of industry or handicraft and serves as a pattern for a product of industry or handicraft. The shape of the original coke bottle, a dress design, a design for a skirt or a design for a piece of furniture, are examples of industrial designs.
Registering an Industrial Design
To protect an industrial design, it must be registered with the proper authority in the country in which you will be selling or marketing your goods or services. Registration of an industrial design is good for an initial period of five (5) years. Registration may be renewed for two further consecutive periods of five (5) years. During that time, the owner of the industrial design has the exclusive rights to: Prevent unauthorised trading or exploitation of the design, assign the design to another to exploit, or grant a licence to others to use or exploit the design.
The law facilitates the protection of the lay-out designs or internal wirings of electronic circuitry intended for manufacture and use in various products. A registration procedure must be used to acquire protection under the applicable statute. CAIPO can be contacted for further information.
Registration of an integrated circuit lasts for an indefinite period. During that time, the owner of the lay-out design of an integrated circuit can: prevent unauthorised trading or exploitation of the lay-out design of the circuit; assign the design of the circuit to another to exploit, or grant a licence to others to use or exploit the lay-out design of the circuit.
Copyright is a person's right in certain types of work, most commonly literary and artistic work, which exists from the time of the creation of such work. Examples of works that may be copyrighted are text books, song lyrics, poetry, articles, photographs, films, plays, compilations and computer software. Copyright arises as soon as the work is created and recorded in writing or in some other form and cannot be registered.
No formal registration is necessary to obtain copyright protection and protection begins on the date of its creation. It is, however, extremely important for any copyright owner to at all times be in a position to establish the date of creation of his work. One way of establishing the date of creation would be to send a copy of the work to yourself by registered mail. After it is received in the mail, the sealed, self-addressed envelope containing the copy of your work should then be kept in a safe place. If you ever have to sue another person for infringement of your work, the sealed envelope can be produced and opened in a court of law, and may provide the necessary evidence of the date of creation of the work. For printed works, there is also a depository system existing at the Barbados Public Library. Generally, the copyright in the work exists for the author’s lifetime, plus fifty (50) calendar years following his or her death. During that period, the copyright owner has the exclusive right to authorise other people to do any of the following in Barbados: Copy the work and issue copies to the public; perform the work in public or to broadcast, play or show the work in public; make any adaptations of the work; assign or license the copyright in the work to any person he or she chooses or transfer the copyright in a work by testamentary disposition, i.e.pass the rights to someone by will at his/her death.
If your rights are infringed, then you can obtain a court injunction to stop the unauthorised person or people from using your work or you can initiate legal proceedings to have the person or people pay you a monetary compensation.
The law protects names and symbols which indicate a certain geographical origin of a given product. A registration procedure may be used to acquire protection under the applicable law. CAIPO can be contacted for further information.
PLANT BREEDERS RIGHTS
Here the law protects new varieties of plants e.g. sugar cane varieties which have been developed after much research and expense. A registration procedure may be used to acquire protection under the applicable law. CAIPO can be contacted for further information.