Protecting Intellectual Property National vs Worldwide

Intellectual property rights cover a broad spectrum of rights for patents, trademarks, trade names, copyrights and related rights, geographical indications, lay-out designs (topographies) of integrated circuits, industrial designs and undisclosed information (trade secrets). There is no international treaty “completely” defines these within a scope of “worldwide protection and further national laws of each country differs in significant content and respects. Industrial property rights are generally protectable through a system of registration. Thus for the purposes of enforcement, there will be a documentary record of the ownership of the relevant right.

The WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs Agreement), the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (covering patents, trademarks, trade names, utility models, industrial designs and unfair competition) and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (covering copyrights) have been three major achievements in multilateral IPR conventions. The TRIPs Agreement explicitly covers patents, trademarks, trade names, copyrights and related rights, geographical indications, lay-out designs (topographies) of integrated circuits, industrial designs and undisclosed information (trade secrets).

The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property is an international treaty concerning the protection of intellectual property. It has been adopted by more than 175 countries. The main principle of the Convention is that nationals of any country of the Union are afforded the same advantages with respect to intellectual property protection and enforcement that the national law of any country of the Union grants its citizens.

Copyright on the other hand, exists upon the creation of a literary, artistic and musical work, as well as photographs, films and videos, computer programs, optical discs and music CDs. It prevents unauthorized reproduction, public performance, recording, broadcasting, translation, or adaptation. Most countries do not require that copyright protection is dependent upon registration, however it is essential to be able to provide documentary evidence of rights ownership.

With regard to enforcement, industrial property laws are territorial in scope and they can be applied only to rights which are registered within the country. For instance, a right holder having patent or trademark in its home country can only take an action of infringement in a foreign country if its patent or trademark is registered in that foreign country. In the case of copyright infringement, this rule is not applied since copyrights enforceable in all countries which are signatories to the TRIPS Agreement.

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