What is intellectual property?
Intellectual property (IP) is a property right established in law to exclude others from using, without authorisation, your intellectual creations. IP rights allow you to commercialise and exploit your innovative and creative ideas. IP rights consist of:
- patents, which protect innovative technical solutions in all lines of industry,
- copyrights, which protect original intellectual creations in the creative arts,
- trademarks, which protect distinctive marks indicating a product’s business origin,
- designs, which protect the visual appearance of the product.
Beyond these formal IP rights, businesses may also opt for protection of their own confidential information from misappropriation by keeping it a trade secret.
|What do they protect?
An invention: a new and innovative way of doing something, or solving a technical problem
A work: an original intellectual creation
A new and original visual appearance of a product
|Distinctive signs that identify brands of products/services
Any type of useful information for business that is secret and kept confidential
|Examples of what is protected
Inventive products and processes in all lines of business
For examples of successful inventions by SMEs
|Audio-visual works, pictures, graphics, architecture, databases, software, designs, literature, novels, poems, plays, music and video, dramatic works
Packages, containers, furnishings, graphic symbols, computer icons, typefaces, graphical user interfaces, logos and maps
More on designs:
Words, personal names, designs, letters, numerals, colours, shapes, packaging, sounds
More on TMs:
Any confidential information: business methods, customer lists, R&D data, financial information, cooking recipes, software, datasets, know-how, algorithms
More on trade secrets:
|How are my rights protected?
|Prevents unauthorised making, using or selling of the patented invention
Prevents the work being(without authorisation) copied, published, distributed or made available online
Protects the integrity and attribution of the work
Prevents unauthorised use of an identical or similar visual appearance for the same kind of products and/or services
Prevents unauthorised use of distinctive signs for the same or related products or/services
Prevents others from using the confidential information, as long as it remains secret
Allow to claim monetary compensation in case of unlawful disclosure of the confidential information
|How long is my innovation protected?
|Up to 20 years
|Lifetime of the author +50 to 70 years after death (depending on the country)
|Up to 25 years for registered designs
|Indefinitely, subject to use in commerce and renewals
|Indefinitely, provided it is not revealed
|Do I have to register it?
Yes, filing an application to a patent office is required
More on patent applications in:
No, copyright protection arises automatically with its creation
No, but it is highly advisable: Unregistered designs are protected only from unauthorised copying and they have shorter term of protection (up to 3 years versus up to 25)
More info in:
Yes, Three routes to registration:
|How long does it take?
|3 to 5 years
3 to 12 months, depending on the country
|3 to 24 months, depending on the country
|How much does it cost?
Medium to high (from 6000€)
|If registered: low (from 15€)
|Low to medium (500€)
|How do I start?