As a patent attorney in private practice, over 2 decades I received many calls and emails starting with the statement “I want to patent my copyright”, or “I want to register my brand as a patent”. It became clear to me that many creative people hear the words patent, trade mark, copyright, Intellectual Property, and IP and know they need these rights, but don’t understand what they encompass or how to obtain them.
What are the main Intellectual Property Types and What Does Each Protect?
Intellectual Property is an umbrella term for all the various types of protection available for the creative endeavours of humans and the main types of Intellectual Property, often abbreviated as IP, are Patents, Trade Marks or Trademarks, and Copyright. These types of IP are protected by laws in South Africa such as the Patents Act 57 of 1978, Trade Marks Act 194 of 1993 and the Copyright Act 78 of 1978. Under each of these laws there are regulations with the detail of how these rights are obtained and managed, for example the Patent Regulations.
Other countries have their own laws to protect IP, for example, United States Code Title 35 – Patents available on the US Patents and Trademarks Office website .