There are many types of intellectual property right, only some of which are registrable; those that are registrable have little in common other than their registrability.
Registration of intellectual property rights provides objective and verifiable legal protection against competitors.
Registration provides national or regional protection and can be costly, requiring careful budgeting.
Failure to register a transaction involving an intellectual property right may have adverse legal consequences for the beneficiary of the transaction.
Once registered, an intellectual property right is presumed to be valid until the contrary is established, thus providing a powerful strategic weapon for controlling a market.
Registered intellectual property rights may be expensive to maintain, incurring renewal fees and, in some cases, regular policing against unauthorized use.
Although some intellectual property rights come into existence on the creation of their subject matter, most intellectual property rights are not recognized by law until a process of registration is completed. Patents for inventions, trademarks, and some types of design are generally subject to registration systems.
Patents protect inventions that are new, nonobvious, and industrially applicable. Trademarks protect words, names, logos, product packaging, and shapes, among other things, that enable the consumer to distinguish the goods or services of one business from those of another. Designs protect the aesthetic and not totally functional elements of the shapes of manufactured products.
Registration of each of these rights enables others to ascertain: the nature of the right protected; legal entitlements of owners and users of the right; and information from which the expiry date of that right can be calculated.
Registration is not synonymous with examination: It may follow a rigorous, often interactive application procedure over a period of months or years—this is usually the case for patents and trademarks—or it may only require a deposit, as in the case of some designs.
Registration and Certification
Proof of registration of any interest in an intellectual property right is necessary if that interest is invoked in litigation. In patent and trademark infringement proceedings, for example, a court will accept a certificate of entitlement to that right as evidence. Registration helps a prospective licensee of a right to identify who must be approached for a license request. When a business is acquired, registration enables a due diligence search to find out which of the assets used by the target business are owned by it. Where the information recorded on the register does not accord with reality, it may be necessary to seek rectification of the register, a process that may be both slow and costly.
In some circumstances the state of the register will not accord with reality because of the length of time taken by the registry in question to record an assignment or license. Sometimes the information on the register may be up to two years out of date, or more. Local practitioners should be able to advise, in any given jurisdiction, on the state of the register.
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