We asked Jiří Sedlák, European patent and trademark attorney (PatentCentrum Sedlák & Partners, s. r. o.), how to protect intellectual property, that is ideas and inventions. According to Jiří Sedlák, the protection of intellectual property is decidedly an area which entrepreneurs as well as commercial and manufacturing companies should always be concerned with. The preventive and timely protection of innovative solutions, trademarks and corporate know-how definitely pays off. It is a common mistake of entrepreneurs to start dealing with the legal issues related to the protection of their property only ex post, i.e. only when the results of their work have been stolen or parasitized.
Intellectual property is divided into two main groups, namely copyright and industrial property rights. Copyright subject matters include literary, artistic and scientific works; in the case of manufacturing companies, they are more commonly related to project documentation, design and software. Industrial property rights include patents, utility and industrial models, brand rights (company names, trademarks and designation of origin), as well as trade secrets and know-how.
Right at the start of a business it is necessary to choose an appropriate company name and carry out a search in the list of registered trademarks to avoid a potential overlap. The company name does not necessarily have to be same as the label used by the company when marketing its products or services. It is possible to protect the chosen designation with a registered trademark, whether in the Czech Republic, the EU or anywhere else. The most valuable trademarks nowadays are APPLE, Coca-Cola, Google, etc.
The protection of innovative technical solutions is particularly important for those companies and institutions dealing with research and development. It is possible to choose between patents and utility models; in contrast to patents, the latter are faster to process, but on the other hand they provide a shorter maximum protection period.
If an applicant has limited experience with the protection of intellectual property, it is advisable that he/she consult a patent attorney registered at the Chamber of Patent Representatives of the Czech Republic. A patent attorney researches the originality of an invention and determines whether the new product will infringe the patent rights of a third party when launched onto the market. Other patents found during the research can provide inspiration for further development. Patent protection is highly formalized and, without the help of an experienced patent attorney, it is virtually impossible to complete the application for a patent so powerful that it can provide an effective and legal monopoly on the market.