How to protect your own creations

An idea (or a concept) cannot be protected as such. Only its realisation can be protected:

• by registering the trademark, if the materialisation of the idea is a sign for identifying products or services to be offered to customers;

• by a patent, if the materialisation of the idea is a technical innovation;

• by registering designs and models, if the materialisation of the idea is a graphic or a new and attractive form of product;

• by authors' rights, in the case of an artistic work;

• while, in some cases, keeping the secret of the idea.

In order to make effective use of these tools, businesses ought, first of all, to adequately protect their own ideas, to monitor them constantly and watch them, using the relevant surveillance services. Correct management of a business's portfolio of industrial property rights involves the pursuit of a suitable protection for such rights. Some broad general rules which a business should follow in this connection are indicated below:

• it should carry out, at regular intervals, an in-depth analysis of its own rights, of its protection regime and of their economic value; as well as making it possible to react in good time to any 'leaks' in the protection system, this will favour businesses in all negotiations which they conduct (licences, merchandising, franchising etc.) which presuppose clear information on the ownership of industrial property rights;

• it should assess in which cases it is really necessary to go through the registration procedure; if there is no interest in exploiting a particular right, it is obviously not necessary to increase the level of protection on that right;

• it should decide how to protect the rights; in the case of registering a trademark it will be necessary to assess whether to register the trademark in Italy or in other countries as well, or to proceed directly to a European or an international registration (in the latter case there still remains the expense of having already carried out a national registration, or at least of filing the application for national registration)

• it should use surveillance services to check in real time and if necessary react to filings of exclusive industrial property rights interfering with the rights acquired

• it should use investigation services to monitor the market and allow the business to react in timely fashion to any violation of its rights

• it should use production materials or techniques which make counterfeiting more difficult (such as holograms, characterised by the variability of programmed refraction)

• it should seek – in the case of counterfeiting of rights – to acquire elements useful for the purposes of proof (such as examples of the counterfeited products, screen shots in which there are offers, etc.).




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