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Disputes requiring an Intellectual Property Lawyer 

An intellectual property lawyer, also referred to as a copyright lawyer, specialises in Intellectual Property (IP) rights. These are legally recognised exclusive rights where owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, including:

  • Musical, literary, and artistic works; 
  • Discoveries and inventions
  • Words, phrases, symbols, and designs

Common types of intellectual property rights include

A patent applies to a specific product design.

A trademark applies to a name, phrase or symbol.

A copyright applies to a written document. 

Increasingly, IP disputes involve questions of significant commercial value and relate to various IP rights in a range of contexts – transactions, licensing, tax planning, financial reporting, regulatory reviews, as well as disputes. These disputes could be resolved by the Intellectual Property Office, the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court or at the High Court. However, most IP professionals will advise that Alternative Dispute Resolution is a cost effective and timely method in resolving such disputes.

What is Copyright?

A copyright will protect the following categories of works: literary, musical, dramatic, pictorial, graphic, motion pictures, sound recording and computer games. 

Once work receives protection and is “copyrighted”, it gives the exclusive right to copy the work, modify it (that is, create "derivative works"), and distribute, perform and display the work publicly. 

An idea or a concept does not have copyright protection. Copyright protects the expression of the idea, but not the ideas themselves. 

Generally, the only protection for ideas and concepts is through trade secret law and/or confidentiality agreements, which provide a contractual remedy for misuse or disclosure of the idea.

What is a Patent?

A Patent protect processes, methods and inventions that are 

  • "novel" 
  • "non-obvious"  and
  • "useful" 

Patent protection requires full public disclosure of the work in detail and therefore precludes maintaining any trade secret protection in the same work.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is like a brand name. It is any word(s) or symbol(s) that represent a product to identify and distinguish it from other products in the marketplace.