Intellectual Property

IP deals with creations of the mind, arising from intellectual activity in the scientific, commercial, literary and artistic fields.  IP rights (IPRs) refer to the protection afforded by the law to various forms of IP. IPRs are designed to stimulate innovative and creative activity, to encourage the dissemination of the outcomes of such activity and to promote economic and social development.  Innovators and creators are typically rewarded with exclusionary time-limited rights to control how their IP is used, and by whom, allowing them to recoup the investment they made in the development of the IP concerned.  When these rights expire, the IP enters the public domain, allowing anyone to use it in the development of new IP.  The IP system therefore aims to achieve a balance between private rights (by rewarding innovative behaviour), and the public good (by ensuring that knowledge and innovations are optimally disseminated and improved).

    • Patents
      provide protection for inventions, including products, processes, compounds and devices: 20 years from filing
    • Registered designs
      provide protection for industrial designs and features of appearance
      • Aesthetic designs: 15 years from date of filing or release date (whichever is earlier)
      • Functional designs: 10 years from date of filing or release date (whichever is earlier)
    • Plant breedersrights
      provide protection for new plant varieties
      • Trees & vines: 25 years from date of registration
      • All other cases: 20 years from date of registration
    • Copyright
      provides protection for artistic and literary works, computer programs, photographs, music, films, drawings and reports – 50 years from date of first publication, or for the lifetime of the author plus 50 years
    • Trade marks
      provide protection for words, phrases, symbols, logos and colours that distinguish goods or services in commerce – indefinite (subject to periodic renewal and use)
    • Trade secrets
      provide protection for confidential information and know-how which is kept secret – As long as the information remains secret
    • Geographical indications
      provide protection for products whose key characteristics, quality and/or reputation are attributable to their place of origin (regional product names) – Typically 10 years, renewable subject to use

(Click links for more information)

IP and research
Invention / technology disclosure
Evaluation and NABC
IP Protection
Route to a patent
Licensing to established companies vs startups
Revenue and impact

For more information, tools and links, visit the Intellectual Property Toolkit  page.


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