Intellectual property is defined as all products of an intellectual process that have taken a material form (a record, a drawing, a sketch, an object, a plan, a design, a book, etc.) Intellectual property is a set of rights that results from various human activities, especially in the literary, artistic, scientific and industrial fields. These areas are protected under the following legal acts:
- in the scope of artistic, scientific, and literary property rights – Act of 04 February 1994 on Copyrights and Related Rights (Polish Journal of Laws / Dz. U. of 1994 No. 24, item 83 as amended)
- in the scope of industrial property law – Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law (consolidated text – Polish Journal of Laws / Dz. U. of 2003 No. 119, item 117 as amended)
- Act of 27 July 2001 on the Protection of Databases
- Act of 16 April 1996 on Combating Unfair Competition
Pursuant to the Act of 04 February 1994 on Copyrights and Related Rights, the authors (creators) of an intangible (intellectual) good are entitled to copyrights as of the time of creation of such a good. Copyrights cover each and every manifestation of a creative activity of an individual nature, established in any form, regardless of its value, intended purpose, or manner of expression (work). The author is entitled to protection irrespective of any formalities, which means that a given work does not have to be submitted or registered anywhere for the protection to apply. Copyrights are divided into:
- Author’s moral rights, which are not limited in time (are indefinite) and may not be waved or disposed of. The author has the right to: be the author of the work; to sign the work with their name or pseudonym, or to make their work available to the public anonymously; inviolability of the contents and form of their work and proper use thereof; decide on making the work available to the public for the first time; and to supervise the manner in which their work is used.
- Author’s economic rights – the right to use the work and manage it in all fields of use, and to receive remuneration for the use of their work. These rights may be transferred, inherited or encumbered. It is also possible to contractually authorise a third party to use the work (via a licence agreement). Author’s economic rights expire after 70 years as of the author’s death or, if the work was co-authored, after 70 years as of the death of the co-author that survived the others.
If a work is created as a result of fulfilling one’s duties under their employment, the employer acquires author’s economic rights within the scope following from the purpose of the employment contract and mutual intention of both parties at the time of accepting the work. Moreover, in the case of scientific works created in the course of performing one’s duties resulting from their employment relationship, the research institution shall have priority in publishing the scientific work of their employee. This priority expires if during six months as of the date of delivering the work, no contract for the publishing of the work is signed with the author, or if the work is not published within two years as of its acceptance.
Know-how (trade secret)
Confidentiality is the easiest way to protect new products of human intellect. Confidentiality means that the developed solution should kept secret. Due to the above-described circumstances, nobody will have the power to breach our exclusivity, as they will simply not know how to do it.
In this case, the protection is not, in principle, based on legal regulations, but rather on factual circumstances. Nobody will be able to use a given method, because they will not be familiar with it. Legal regulations apply only in cases of an attempted violation of such a trade secret, and they are intended to stop people attempting such a violation (the Act of April 1993 on Combating Unfair Competition).
At the same time, it is possible to conclude contracts on making know-how available to other entities. A very important part of such contracts is the confidentiality obligation imposed upon the entity to which the secrets of our solution are revealed.
Inventions are protected by patents. A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention (regardless of the field of technology) that is new, that involves an inventive step, and is fit for industrial application. The protection of an invention requires that all technical information related to it, which is publicly available and allows every person with appropriate technical knowledge to recreate such an invention, is revealed. A patent is a guarantee for the patentee that although their invention is publicly available, nobody will be allowed to use or copy it without the patentee’s consent. It provides protection and allows the patentee to obtain material benefits if the invention is implemented. The patent law grants temporary (usually 20-year) and geographical protection to the inventor.
The patentee may consent to the manufacture and implementation of patented solutions by granting a licence to another entity. Usually, a licence is granted for a licence fee, which constitutes the remuneration for the inventor’s creativity, and it becomes possible for the licensee to commercialise the invention.
Sometimes, technical solutions fail to meet the requirements for protection under a patent. Therefore, another form of protection (i.e. a utility model) was created. Utility models are a new and useful solution of a technical nature, which refer to the shape, structure, or configuration of a tangible object. When applying for protection under a utility model, the practical significance for the manufacture or use of the product is considered. Due to a lower protection standard than that granted to inventions, utility models are often called “small patents”. Unlike in the case of inventions, the inventive step is not required for utility models. The right to protection is in force for 10 years as of the date of application.
An industrial design is a new form of a creation or its part of an individual nature that is given to the object by, in particular, the features of the line, outline, shape, colour scheme, structure, or the material, and its decoration. The protection encompasses the aesthetic aspect of the creation (not its technical function). The right to an industrial design is granted by registration of the design for 25 years as of the application date, which is divided into 5-year periods. The registration application is not published. All information concerning the registration is provided to third parties after obtaining the applicant’s consent.
A trademark is defined as any marking that may be presented graphically, provided that the marking is suitable for distinguishing goods/services of one enterprise from goods/services of another enterprise. A trademark may take the form of, in particular, a word, drawing, ornament, colour scheme, spatial form (including the form of goods or packaging), a melody, or any other sound signal. The right to protection of trademarks entitles its holder to the exclusive use of a trademark in a commercial or professional manner. The protective period lasts for 10 years, and it can be prolonged for subsequent 10-year periods an unlimited number of times.
Integrated circuit layout designs
An integrated circuit layout design is defined as a solution based on the spatial distribution of elements, expressed in any way, out of which at least one is active, and all or part of the connections of an integrated circuit. For the purposes of registration in the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland, the integrated circuit layout design is the original functional spatial structure of a physically executed integrated circuit. Rights to the layout design are granted on the basis of registration.
Geographical indications are applicable to special goods that show features typical for them in relation to their geographical place of origin. Goods that are associated with names of geographical regions often gain a reputation due to their particular quality or nature, and therefore they are protected by a set of domestic legal acts and international agreements.
Geographical indications are classified as regular or qualified indications. Regular geographical indications are indications that do not indicate any special quality of the goods, just their origin. This type of indications is protected under the Act on Combating Unfair Competition. However, qualified indications are indications that certify the origin as well as the special features of goods that are substantiated by the place of origin. These include, for example, indications protected under the Act on Industrial Property Law and Council Regulation no. 510/2006 on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs.
The principles of conduct in relation to copyrights, know-how solutions, and industrial property rights at the University of Warsaw are set forth in the Rules of acquisition, use, and protection of intellectual property at the University of Warsaw.
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