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What are the Different Types of Industrial Property Rights?

By R. Kimball
Updated May 16, 2024
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Industrial property rights are one of the categories of intellectual property rights that protect inventions. Inventions are generally new solutions to technical problems. Industrial property rights protect the idea itself. To receive protection, these ideas do not have to be embodied in a physical object. The different types of industrial property rights include patents, trademarks, trade names, industrial designs, layout designs of integrated circuits, geographic indications and protection against unfair competition.

The protection granted to an owner of an industrial property right is protection against unauthorized use. A person or entity must receive authorization from the original inventor before using the invention in unauthorized ways. This is true even for someone who makes the same invention independently at a later date.

Patents are written to protect inventions. They are the most widely used industrial property right. A patent is an industrial property right granted to an inventor by a recognized governing body, which permits the inventor to exclude all others from exploiting his or her invention for a limited period of time.

In return for this right, the inventor must fully disclose his or her invention to the governing body. The governing body then makes this information public. The specific governing body varies by country. The patent application process is complicated, and not all inventions are patentable.

Trademarks are signs or combinations of signs that are used in the marketing of goods or services. They differentiate the goods or services of one person or company from those of another. Each country has different requirements and limitations as to what can be registered as a trademark.

A trade name is that name that identifies an organization. In most countries, a trade name can be registered with a governing body. The industrial property right protection granted is that the trade name of one organization cannot be used by another organization, either as a trade name or trademark, if such use would confuse the public.

Industrial designs are developed to determine the appearance of an useful article that is manufactured in an industrial process. The use of industrial designs is an industrial property right granted in many countries as part of a registration system that protects the original, aesthetic and nonfunctional aspects of a product that result from an intended design. Layout designs of integrated circuits are inventions. They are extremely costly to create and very easy to copy. They are a specific category of industrial property right because they are not covered by either patents or industrial designs.

Geographic indications are signs used on products to designate such products geographic origin if such origin denotes a certain quality or other reputation due that product’s place of origin. The protections granted to these types industrial property rights is both protection of and enforcement against the unauthorized use of such an indication. These protections vary by country.

Protection against unfair competition is provided to industrial property in order to protect it against acts that are against honest practices in industry or commerce. This protection is a supplement to protection granted to the specific industrial property rights. It also varies by country.

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