Intellectual property is not just a course but it’s something we engage in everyday even as law students. Few months ago there were two entrepreneurs (law students) who had disagreements over the infringement of the other Intellectual property rights on Instagram and they resorted to funny remedy such as posting on whatsapp updates claiming the other is a scam.
How about your picture being used for meme or posted on IG without your consent? These are issues intellectual property address.
With the advent of innovation, creativity and technology;Intellectual property law is the new oil.
Black panther made more $1bn profit and just imagine they used your song in the trailer without paying my economic rights? There are increasing reasons why we must learn our rights under intellectual property law.
This will just be an introductory interaction as we will be seeing 4 subtopics
1. Definition and objectives of IP
2. Nature of rights
3. Features of IP
4. Headings Under IP
Intellectual property rights protect creations of the human mind i.e ideas stemming from the human brain. Something original created by someone. The concept of intellectual property covers patents, trademarks, literary and artistic works, designs and models, trade names, neighboring rights, unfair competition, geographical indications, trade secrets, etc
Objectives of IP
1. To protect the ideas of inventors and creators so as to make it enticing for them to create more original ideas.
2. To improve man’s capacity for inventions and ideas as the advancement of the world will stem from creation of intelligent ideas.
3. To protect existing ideas so that resources can be channeled towards discovering and exploiting new ideas.
2. Nature of Rights
This is very simple and straightforward. They are 2 ; economic and moral rights.
Economic rights provide you the liberty of earning from your idea (invention, artistic work, literary work, industrial design).
The rights also permit you the liberty of denying others the usage of such ideas in various ways.
You can prevent people from adapting, copying, renting out, imitating, showing, lending out or broadcasting your work. Also, economic rights can be given or sold to a person or institution
Moral rights serve to protect your identity as the owner of the idea. Moral rights concern you in relation to the idea. Moral rights allow you to you react accordingly against your work being used in a derogatory manner. They also allow you to be identified as the owner of the invention/artistic work/literary work etc.
In other words an economic right can be transferred when there’s payment of a certain amount. However, moral rights cannot be transferred, therefore if you are infringing on the right of another person you pay the person if it’s an economic but if it’s a moral right you give credit to the person. As an illustration, the phrase ‘Joromi’ was coined by Victor Uwaifo and used in his song titled ‘Joromi’.
Victor Uwaifo argued that Simi and Jaywon shouldn’t have infringed on his rights over the song joromi without his consent.
Had it been Simi paid Victor Uwaifo, the right would have been economic right. However if she had mentioned him in her song ‘joromi’ it would have been a moral right.
Let’s consider a question.
So would the coining of the phrase ‘Joromi’ ordinarily entitle Victor to a copyright? And can he enjoy an economic right from it?
The title of the song ‘Joromi’ was coined, that is, it is not a normal Yoruba word. He owns the Intellectual property right over the title. As she didn’t acknowledge Victor as the creator of the word, he could sue as his IP rights were being infringed. However in this case, Uwaifo overlooked it and didn’t enforce his right. So there will be no legal compulsion on Simi to give him credit.
A difference between moral rights and economic rights is that the former cannot be transferred. They are solely invested in the creator.
3. Features of IP
Intellectual properties have various features.
1. Creator’s Exclusive Right : Self-explanatory. The creator is given rights that excludes every other person. Others cannot use his right. The right belongs to the owner until he transfers it to another person.
2. Transfer : An intellectual property, like real property, can be sold or freely given to another person. The right of the creator may be wholly transferred or a period of time may be agreed upon by both parties during which the transferee will use the intellectual property till the expiration of such period of time
NOTE: A quick question to consider. In a situation of co-founding an idea, but each with disproportionate contribution, Is the right to be shared 50/50 or is it particular to each party’s contribution? If yes, how is the proportion determined?
In answering, one should note that it is no more a person. It is a group of persons. As for groups of person, institutions can get their intellectual property protected. Access to their collective right is determined by the group or institution. There’s what they call ‘split sheet. This would be explained better during copyright lessons. Now let’s continue on the features.
3. Duration of Owner’s Right : Various intellectual properties get their owners various periods of time for the possession of such rights. For instance patents usually last for 20 years from time of issuance, while trade secrets can last indéfinitely.
4. Usage across country borders : Intellectual property rights can be invoked over long distances. A patent internationally registered in Nigeria can be enforced in UK. This is because of the presence of various international treaties on intellectual property.
4. HEADINGS UNDER IP
Here, we shall see the various intellectual property rights such as copyright, patent, trademark, geographic indication of origin, industrial design, trade secrets, database protection laws, publicity rights laws, laws for the protection of plant varieties, laws for the protection of semi-conductor chips etc.
A. Patents are rights that protect an invention. This invention is usually a technical solution to a technical problem or a new way of doing something or a new product. A patent protects the idea and not necessarily the expression of that idea e.g patent will protect the diagram and schematics of a vehicle even before making the vehicle.
The patent grants the owner the exclusive right to use it any legal way without undue usage by any other party
It is an intellectual property which does not essentially grant an exclusive right over an idea but the expressions of ideas which makes it different from a patent. A patent is related with invention – technical solution to technical problems while copyright is a field which has gone with artistic, literary creativity- creativity in scientific works, audio-visual works, musical works, software and others. It protects not ideas but expressions of ideas as opposed to patent.
C. Industrial Design
A design is a kind of intellectual property which gives an exclusive right to a person who has created a new appearance of a product. It deals with appearance: how they look like. Appearance is important because consumers are interested in the outer appearance of a product. It is concerned with appearance, not quality.
D. Trademark Right
It gives protection to graphic representation(words, logos or even sounds and smells) which are distinctive in nature and serve as source identification. A trademark is to be found on the goods associated with them. It enables the customer to identify the goods from others.
They exist forever so long as the good with which they are associated continue to be sold. But they require renewal.
E. Geographic Indications
They are the indications on products about the geographic origin of the goods. They indicate the general source. The indication usually relates to the quality or reputation or other characteristics of the good. For example, those wines with their geographical indications will already make a wine taster know its taste and quality.
In line with the headings, I’ve got some questions.
Hint:As a general rule, a product may have more than one type of intellectual property.
1.The tvs instructions or manual are protected by____
2.The Samsung TV design is protected by____.
3.The part and processes of a Samsung tv are protected by____.
4 .What trademark protects every Samsung product?
1. The tv instructions or manual are protected by copyright just like your textbooks.
2. The design of the tv is protected by industrial design.
3. The part and processes are protected by patent.
4. The trademark protects the Samsung TV. Examples of trademark includes logo, slogans, packaging etc. It distinguishes the goods from that of its competitors. If you notice the a in Samsung is not like the normal A, that’s the distinction.
NOTE: Design and Patent are always placed side by side because they are similar. That is why we have the Patent and Design Act. In order to avoid confusion, let’s explain using the iphone as an example. The shape of an iphone is the design while the innovations which makes it distinct from other phones like android, windows etc can be protected by Patent.