25 Jul Digital marketing & e-business- is your intellectual property protected?
Are you protecting your intellectual property?
Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Creations of the mind and innovations are protected by law in Zimbabwe to enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. Internationally, the right to derive financial benefit from own creations is recognised in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which provides for the right to benefit from the protection of moral and material interests resulting from authorship of scientific, literary or artistic productions.
The reason why protecting intellectual property is important outside of deriving financial benefits from it is that it creates an environment for the growth of additional resources for further innovation through active encouragement of innovators. In turn, by balancing the interests of innovators and those of the general public, it fosters public acknowledgement of efforts that go into inventing a product and subsequently, innovators will have confidence to create more which will then spur economic growth through the creation of new jobs and industries. In this case, the discussion leans towards the use and protection of trademarks and copyrights.
Are your trademarks and copyrights protected?
On a daily basis, companies market their new products and brands and this involves the showcasing of new industrial designs and trademarks, new music, plays and films to accompany the promoted product. Trademarks can be registered and such protection ensures that the owners of marks have the exclusive right to use them to identify goods or services or to authorize others to use them in return for payment. To register, a trademark must be filed with the appropriate national or regional trademark office. The application must have a clear reproduction of the sign being filed for registration including actual colours and any three-dimensional features.
In terms of copyrights, protection is obtained automatically without the need of registration. The protection of literary works fosters creativity such that an author or an artist can benefit from the fruit of their works and earn recognition through royalties. It also allows creators to control how their work can be used by others and how such work can be disseminated.
Is your use of Intellectual Property infringing on the rights of others?
Intellectual Property related rights are enforceable and infringement of such can lead to a gruesome court battle and eventually loss of thousands of dollars in litigation, which leads to loss in revenues for a company. In China, according to statistics [unconfirmed], “the US Trade Commission reports that many US companies have suffered major economic and reputational losses due to infringement. According to its report, losses in sales, royalties or license fees due to IP infringement were an estimated $48.2 billion in 2009, with $18.5 billion in losses reported among high-tech and manufacturing firms. Copyright infringements resulted in estimated losses of $23.7 billion.” Infringement can include using another company’s/product’s trademark for trade in the market or use of music, literary works, poems or films by another in an advertisement without permission to use them. It can also include use of another’s image for a poster or an advert without their permission. Hence this is the reason why piracy is unlawful and why in some jurisdictions it is qualified as ‘theft’. Hence, due to the legal implications involved in using intellectual property, it is wise for any company, including marketers to protect themselves and to enjoy conducting business on the right side of the law.
By Michelle C Chikomo
Michelle Chikomo is an Associate Intern at Muvingi & Mugadza Legal Practitioners
What is Intellectual Property at http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/
Zimbabwe loses from intellectual property rights ignorance http://www.financialgazette.co.zw/zimbabwe-loses-from-intellectual-property-rights-iggnorance accessed 6 April 2017.
United States Department of Commerce http://www.acetool.commerce.gov/intellectual-property.