There are different forms of intellectual property (IP) and businesses should know which one applies to their products, creations, or services to maximize benefits and protection under the law, according to an IP expert.
Ace Acosta, an IP rights specialist at the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), said intellectual property should be regarded as an investment to be firmly safeguarded against unscrupulous entities.
“Intellectual property is an asset that can increase the market value of a business. It can be sold, assigned, transferred, commercialized, licensed, franchised, and can even be a security or collateral for loans,” Acosta said in a recent webinar.
He said an IP can be roughly defined as a “creation of the mind” and he likened its worth to a valuable piece of property like land or a car that one saved, worked hard and made long sacrifices for. “You would not want anyone to exploit or use that property.”
He urged enterprises not to disregard or diminish the value of their intellectual property, more so now with the knowledge economy when intangible assets are often more valuable than physical properties.
There are several types of intellectual property under Republic Act No. 8293, also known as the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.
Acosta said patents are one of these. A patent is an IP associated with technical inventions that have industrial applications, such as, for example, an unsinkable and portable rescue boat that was patented by a Filipino inventor. The term of a patent is 20 years of exclusive rights starting from the filing date of the application. The patent must be maintained yearly from the fifth year.
Another kind of IP is the utility model, or the “petty patent,” a lower kind of patent that protects innovations and new improvements that are industrially applicable but that stop short of being an invention. Acosta said an example of a utility model is the improvement done on a pediatric cough syrup, to which lagundi was added as the active ingredient.
A utility model is entitled to seven years of protection from the date of filing and is non-renewable, said Acosta.
Industrial design is an IP equated with the aesthetics or ornamental features of a manufactured item and does not consider the product’s functions. Protecting his designs was critical for Kenneth Cobonpue, famed Filipino industrial designer, to safeguard and secure exclusivity to his creations, said Acosta.
A registered industrial design is protected for five years from the filing date of the application. Registration may be renewed for not more than two consecutive periods of five years each, or a total of 15 years of exclusive rights over the design.
A trademark, meanwhile, is any visible sign used to distinguish the goods or services of an individual or enterprise. Trademarks are equated with branding and may include the name, logo, mascot, packaging, and color, among others. Popular food chains trademark their burgers or fried chicken products to separate themselves from their competitors, Acosta noted.
Trademarks can be protected in perpetuity if regularly monitored and properly maintained. Protection runs for 10 years from the date of registration and is renewable for a period of 10 years at a time.
To enjoy the full benefits of owning your IP, you need to register it at IPOPHL, Acosta urged entrepreneurs.
“Use the proper IP type to the proper intention or creation,” and if you are unsure, IPOPHL has experts who can help identify the type of IP and how to register it, he added.
Filing for IP registration and making payments are now done online through the IPOPHL website (www.ipophil.gov.ph).
Acosta reminds individuals and companies that IP registration requires time and effort as it involves requirements, actions (such as payments) and examination procedures.
“You should wait for the notices so you can respond properly because failure to respond to the notices means failure to register. If all actions are satisfied, your IP will now be registered.”
Finally, he stressed the need to maintain the intellectual property and renew its registration as needed to continue enjoying your IP rights.