In our latest guest blog, intellectual property (IP) lawyer, Andrés Jaramillo-Mejía talks us through the principles underpinning IP law and the need for reliable and robust documentation.
Over two centuries of multilateral agreements and a host of supranational accords and organizations, such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), ensure that IP law is international in nature. IP matters are also often at the forefront of any negotiation of bilateral and regional free-trade agreements.
The well-deserved protagonism of IP stems from the fact that a company’s value is based on its IP assets, making their protection of utmost importance.
Different types of IP
In its broadest sense, IP refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce. IP is then divided into two categories:
- industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source
- copyright, which includes literary and artistic works among others
Patent prosecution and the importance of record keeping
Many countries define inventions as new solutions to a technical problem. The word patent, or letters patent, denotes the document issued by the relevant government authority to attest inventorship. In order to obtain a patent for an invention, the inventor, or the entity they work for, must submit an application to the national or regional patent office. In the application, the inventor must describe the invention in detail and compare it with previous existing technologies in the same field in order to demonstrate its newness.
Whether under a first-to-file (FTF) system (the majority of countries), first-to-invent (FTI) patent system or first-inventor-to-file (the USA following the 2013 America Invents Act); accurate and reliable record keeping is paramount. Not only is documentation essential during the patent application process but it’s also essential when it comes to defending IP rights in contested cases.
Thus in many ways, the secure and robust recording of the research and development (R&D) leading to inventorship is one of the most critical steps to establishing IP rights.