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By recognising a specific regime to protect certain creations through intellectual property rights, the legislator intended to stimulate creativity and innovation. The justification for trademark rights is based on the desire to promote fair competition. In general, intellectual property rights are intended to stimulate the investment of time, effort and money in literary works, technological inventions, new medicines, better software and better quality products or services.
Incentive for innovation
Moreover, thanks to intellectual property, the dissemination of knowledge and innovation is fostered. Not only is secrecy regarding a person's creations no longer the only way to protect them from being copied, but divulging the creation itself is sometimes a necessary condition for obtaining an intellectual property right. For example, a patent is only granted if the applicant clearly and fully describes the invention, so that it can be applied by a professional in the sector in question.
In return for the contribution of individuals or companies to cultural or economic life or to technological progress, they are granted exclusive and temporary control over their creation or invention in the form of an intellectual property right.
This legal monopoly gives the patent holder the opportunity to recoup their investment in the patent's creation and derive an income or profit from their success. If the holder of the intellectual property chooses not to exploit their creation themselves, they may also derive income from their intellectual property right by selling it or granting user licenses to third parties. Similarly, intellectual property rights provide the holder with a solid legal position that can be useful in the event of counterfeiting and other unfair practices.
It is therefore worth checking whether it is appropriate - from an economic, strategic, industrial or competitive point of view - to apply for the protection of a particular creation, invention or design.
Whether it is a patent, a trademark, a design or model, or a breeder's right, protecting your creations gives you a number of advantages. Discover some of them!
Why apply for a patent?
A patent gives the holder an exclusive right of restriction of an invention. If the patent holder does not wish to exploit the invention themselves, or only in a specific field, they may grant exploitation rights that may generate additional revenue for their company. For companies, owning a patent may indeed be more interesting as a strategy for creating value than as a guarantee of an exclusive exploitation right.
In addition, a patent can strengthen a company's negotiating position in a collaborative project with other partners. For example, a patent on an improvement of a previously patented invention increases the chances of obtaining a licence on this earlier invention, through a cross-licence.
Protection via a patent can also be a strategy to foster research collaboration with other companies in the field of research, or to transform a technology into a standard.
If a party wants to develop their activities in a specific field on the market, third parties owning patents may be an obstacle. By protecting their invention first, a party ensures, through their patent right, that no one else can use their invention without their consent.
Finally, patents are also excellent promotional tools. They communicate to third parties in which technical field you are active and to what extent you hold an advanced position in terms of technology.
Why register a trademark?
If your trademark is registered, you have certain exclusive rights to use the protected symbol. The most important attribute of these rights is “the right of restriction”. You can prohibit third parties from using the same or a similar trademark, for the same or similar goods or services. In addition, once your trademark is well-known, you can even oppose the use of the symbol by other parties for goods or services that are not similar (i.e. outside the categories for which the trademark is registered).
Trademark protection also guarantees you the freedom to use the protected sign yourself. If you do not register a sign as a trademark, you run the risk that others will. They could then, as a general rule - there are exceptions - prohibit you from using the trademark.
The exclusive right conferred by registering the trademark may also generate additional income, in particular through granting licences or the transfer of the trademark.
Finally, if third parties use your trademark without your authorisation or take advantage of the reputation of your trademark, you may take certain actions and proceedings based on your trademark registration, in order to enforce your rights.
Why register designs and/or models?
The design of a product, plays a strategic role for its creator. Between two products of the same quality, a consumer is likely to choose the most aesthetic.
This is why many companies or designers choose to protect the appearance of their products by registering them as designs or models.
Design or model rights grant exclusivity on this external aspect to the right's holder.
Why apply for breeder's rights?
Breeder's rights gives the breeder of a new plant variety exclusive rights over the production and marketing of the protected plant variety. The variety may not be commercialised or produced for commercial purposes by another person without the authorisation of the breeder. As is the case for the holder of a patent right, it is possible for the holder of a breeder's right to grant exploitation licenses that can generate additional revenue for their company.
However, there are a number of exceptions that do not require the permission of the breeder.