Intellectual Property Rights: Guides to Patenting

Intellectual property is a broad term that includes various fields. It evolved from the word property which exclusively referred to land during the 18th century. Eventually, it dramatically extended its scope to other fields and objects of human intellect. Meanwhile, intellectual property law is the law developed to protect the physical properties of human as well as their intellectual properties. These intellectual properties include objects that are intangible such as movies, books, artwork, logos, product names and inventions as well as secret information.

Intellectual property law commonly includes areas such as patent, copyright, trade mark and trade secrets. Patent is the right given exclusively to a person who invents, discovers or manufactures new process or new solution to a problem. It allows the owner to protect themselves from others who have no authorization to use and exploit their works. Generally, a period of 20 years after the application of the patent is granted to the owner to monopolies his creation.

Meanwhile, a copyright is a legal right given to the original creator of any form of artistic works or information, such as movies, books, artworks, sound recording and photographs. The author has all the exclusive right to manipulate the duplication of his creative work as well as to select who may distribute, adapt or perform in public his work. The period given to the recipients to protect his work against exploitation is about the existence of the author plus more decades. The trademark, on the other hand, is a unique sign that distinguishes a business among other businesses.

The distinct sign of businesses serves as an indicator of quality and identifies their product thus; it should be distinct and shall not cause confusion to consumers. Meanwhile, a trade secret is confidential and non-public information that make one company advantageous to its competitors. It gives the company the right to monopolize the secret information. Patents and trademarks are needed to be registered to receive protection while copyright and trade secrets are automatically protected and are needed not to be registered.

The term patent was coined from the Latin word “litterae patentes” which means an open letter. The letters, which are used by the royal families to grant rights and privileges, served as a proof of rights and privileges given to an inventor or creator. Evidence showed that patenting was apparent even in old Greek cities. Meanwhile, it was believed that the informal system of granting a patent had originated from Italy. The first patent was awarded by the Republic of Florence in 1421. Meanwhile, it was in 1449 that the first patent was awarded to John of Utynam who was a glass maker.

He was granted a 20-year period to protect and monopolize the supply of glass windows in a college in United Kingdom. However, it was in 1474 that patenting became a legal concept in Italy. The Venetian Statute of 1474 was issued by the Republic of Venice which stated that any new inventions, which were already functional, should have to communicate to the Republic so that the Republic could provide legal rights and protection against infringers for about ten years. Through colonization patenting was extended to the United States, specifically in North America.

It was in 1646 that the first mechanical patent was awarded to John Jenkes by the Great Court of Massachusetts. He was granted a patent for his invention of scythes. In 1790, President George Washington signed the bill for patenting that in turn led to the foundation of modern patenting system of US and the establishment of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Since then, the US Patent and Trademark Office had the responsibility to record and protect copyright matters. In 1870, USPTO extended its control not only in issuing patent but also in registering trademarks for businesses.