Should I have an idea patented first?
Patents & Co .: When is an idea really «my idea»?
The four ways to protect an idea
Protection granted by the state for a technical invention. To do this, it must be new, not obvious and commercially applicable. Patent protection gives the owner the right to exclude others from using his invention commercially for a maximum of 20 years. He can transfer this right to others, for example by selling or licensing. In return, the invention must be disclosed to the general public so that research can benefit.
A symbol that can be used to distinguish the goods or services of one company from those of other companies. Trademarks can in particular be words, letters, numbers, images, three-dimensional shapes or combinations of such elements.
The owner of the trademark has the exclusive right to use it. He may forbid others to use identical or similar symbols for the same or equivalent goods or services.
The trademark protection runs for ten years and can be extended as often as you like.
The external design of two- or three-dimensional objects is characterized, for example, by the arrangement of lines, surfaces, colors, contours or by the material. A design can only be protected if it is new and has a peculiarity; it must differ significantly from what is known. The protection is valid for five years and can be extended to 25 years.
It automatically protects intellectual creations of literature and art that have an individual character - so-called works. This includes texts, music, images, sculpture, photography, film, dance or pantomime, but also computer programs.
The author alone can determine the use of the work. Copyright cannot be transferred, only inherited. However, the copyright usage rights can be transferred, for example to a publisher.
The protection generally expires 70 years after the death of the author, in the case of computer programs already 50 years afterwards.
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