Knowing Which IP Protection Is Best for You

We spoke to Kateřina Kulhánková about how to protect and develop intellectual property and how to decide which option is best for you and your business.

How can intellectual property be protected and developed?

In terms of the main legal mechanisms applicable in the Czech Republic, works are copyright-protected immediately upon their creation and do not have to be registered for this copyright to take effect. A different procedure applies to industrial property rights (such as trademarks, patents, utility models and industrial designs), which are only protected once registered.

Czech copyright legislation draws a distinction between moral rights and economic rights. Moral rights (namely, to make decisions regarding the publication of his or her work, to claim authorship, and to the inviolability of author’s work) belong solely to the author as the originator of the work and cease to exist when the author dies. Economic rights, on the other hand, survive for 70 years after the author’s death and form part of the author’s estate.

In the Czech Republic, copyright is non-transferable and may only be granted to third parties by way of a licence agreement.

Trademarks, meanwhile, must be registered with the Czech Industrial Property Office. Trademarks are protected for a period of 10 years from the date on which the trademark application is filed, and may be renewed for successive 10-year periods thereafter.

The entrepreneur’s right to business secrets is exclusive and indefinite.

Patents are another form of intellectual property which serve to legally protect inventions. Czech law regards patents as a transferrable property right. Applicants file a patent application which, if granted, protects the invention for a period currently set at 20 years. The proprietor of the patent acquires the exclusive right to prevent any other person from using the patented invention.

Trade secrets, such as know-how, are regulated by the Czech Civil Code as rights pertaining to businesses. The entrepreneur operating the business to which any trade secret relates has exclusive right to dispose of it. The entrepreneur’s right to business secrets is exclusive and indefinite. In addition, entrepreneurs are entitled to legal protection against any violation or compromising of their trade secrets under provisions aimed at preventing unfair competition.

Other measures may also help safeguard a business’s IP portfolio, such as entering into NDAs and other business agreements, and keeping evidence of business ideas and authorship in case of any subsequent dispute.

Contracts of deposit can also be made with collective management organisations or artist agencies, and copies of works can be deposited with a notary.

Why is it so important to protect intellectual property?

Although certain IP rights come into force automatically, authors must nevertheless act to safeguard the legal protection of their work. If IP protection is not ensured promptly, it may be necessary to seek reactive recourse at a later date, which will of course be both timely and costly and its success cannot be guaranteed.

Proprietors’ rights to protection are only as good as their willingness and ability to enforce them.

How should companies decide which of the above options are the best for them?

Businesses need to think carefully about why and how they should invest in IP protection. There are several good reasons for doing so, such as stopping others from copying work, adding value to the company or selling and licencing IP to third parties.

Deciding how to best protect products is by no means straightforward, and expert advice is recommended. As soon as any company starts to implement a business or product idea, it should look to identify which aspects of the business or products can be trademark-protected, copyrighted, patented, protected as trade secrets or by other means. Different procedures are required for protecting each of these forms of IP from unfair competition and copycats.

Proprietors’ rights to protection are only as good as their willingness and ability to enforce them.

 

Kateřina Kulhánková

Senior Associate

WOLF THEISS
Advokáti ▪ Attorneys-at-Law
Pobřežní 12, 186 00 Prague 8, Czech Republic
www.wolftheiss.com

Kateřina Kulhánková specialises in IP/IT and TMT law and matters concerning innovative areas such as cybersecurity and cloud services. She is active in trademark, copyright and licencing cases and advises clients in the field of IT compliance and e-commerce projects. She has extensive experience in IP enforcement and advisory, drafting and negotiating IP-focused commercial agreements and advising on IP aspects of major transactions and corporate restructurings.

Wolf Theiss is a leading law firm in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. Starting out in Vienna 60 years ago and building its reputation on its unrivalled local knowledge and strong international capabilities, the team presently comprises more than 340 lawyers across 13 countries. Wolf Theiss’s international operations encompass all aspects necessary for ensuring that IP portfolios both in offline and online sectors are adequately protected.

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