What are the different types of intellectual property rights that are important for the commercial development of startups and how can they be protected?
Startups are usually founded based on an innovative idea, which is then molded to shape its commercial development and obtain investment accordingly. Protecting the intellectual property rights of this innovative idea and all related industrial property rights, which are critical to the growth of the startup, is essential.
These legally protected rights can be divided into two main categories: (i) intellectual property rights, which include rights arising from literary works, musical works, artistic works, and similar works, and (ii) industrial property rights, which are more closely related to startups, including trademark, geographical indication, trade name, design, patent, and utility model rights.
In order to protect and register industrial property rights, they must be innovative, unique, and/or distinguishable. Registration provides protection limited to the country where the rights are registered, but thanks to the Madrid Protocol, of which our country is also a member, it is possible to register these rights in many countries that are parties to the protocol with a single application, with less effort and expense. Thus, registration provides the right to exclusively use, produce and sell the invention or other industrial property rights for economic and commercial purposes in the countries where the invention is registered, as well as the right to prevent unauthorized use of these rights by others.
If an innovative idea/invention is presented to society as a product or method, it is protected by a patent. If the idea/invention does not involve an inventive step (i.e., the idea is not obvious to those skilled in the relevant technical field), but is still an industrially applicable innovative solution, it is protected as a utility model. Patent protection (for examined patents) provides protection for a limited period and for a period of 20 years from the date of application. The protection period for utility models is 10 years from the application date. After the protection period, the industrial property rights with patent or utility model protection become public property and cannot be extended. Therefore, after this period, these products and ideas can be used, produced and sold by anyone for commercial and economic purposes.
As a result of innovative ideas from entrepreneurs, there may not always be a tangible product, but instead, this innovative idea may also serve a purpose to society. In this case, it needs to be trademarked in order to differentiate the service to be provided. Nowadays, we see that many service ideas are also being trademarked, allowing them to differentiate themselves from each other. Trademark protection provides a 10-year protection period for a specific area from the date of application, which can be renewed as many times as desired in 10-year periods. In addition, an unregistered trademark can also benefit from unregistered protection if it can be proven that it has been used for a long time, etc. However, it should be noted that registering a trademark offers stronger protection.