Copyright, database rights, and some countries’ design rights—as well as rights covering confidential information, know-how, trade names, and get-up—are intellectual property rights that do not depend on an application process that results in registration.
If a right is not registered, third parties may find it impossible to identify either the ownership and/or the extent to which the unregistered right is protected.
Statutory unregistered rights are generally vested with the characteristics of property and may be assigned, licensed, and used as collateral, whereas nonstatutory rights may not possess these qualities.
The most legally and commercially significant nonregistered intellectual property right is copyright, a broad term that encompasses many different types of right. Some unregistered designs are also accorded protection.
Rights involving confidential information and trade secrets are generally recognized, although the manner in which the law protects them may differ substantially between different jurisdictions.
Unregistered rights in trade names and get-up, variously protected by laws of unfair competition and passing-off, serve to reinforce the registered protection provided by trademark and registered design law.
While patents, trademarks, and some other intellectual property rights require registration following a process of application and examination or deposit, other rights (such as copyright or some design rights) automatically come into being either when a work is created or as a consequence of a relationship. Examples of the latter are the rights in confidential information that arise from the relationship of a person who communicates information to a specific person or persons, and rights in the goodwill in a trading name that result from the relationship between a trader and his customers.
Nonregistered intellectual property rights are just as important as registered rights. Examples of extremely valuable nonregistered rights include J. K. Rowling’s copyright in the Harry Potter books and the formula for the Coca-Cola syrup. Both nonregistered and registered rights may exist together in the same object, whether serially or simultaneously. Thus an invention, which is vulnerable until the patent right is granted, is protected as a trade secret until it is disclosed to the public. Equally, a computer program that satisfies the appropriate criteria for patentability is also protected by copyright.
- Page 1 of 4
- Next section Problems Arising from Nonregistered Rights