Other Intellectual Property Rights

Community Unregistered Design Right (automatic right)

A short term form of protection for industrial designs. It only lasts for 3 years. Registration is not required and protection begins when the product is first placed on the market. It protects the appearance of the whole or part of a product, which may include shape or decoration against copying. The design must be novel and have individual character.

Plant Breeders' Rights (registration required)

(PBR) are a form of IP designed specifically to protect new varieties of plants and can guarantee a return on investment to the breeder of a new plant variety.

In Ireland, Plant Breeders' Rights are registered by the office of the Controller of Plant Breeders' Rights, a corporate body, which is staffed by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food. A variety is eligible for rights if it is distinct, stable, uniform (DUS), and new, and if it has an approved name. Once a right has  been established for a variety, the onus is on the holder of the right to enforce it, if necessary by legal action. The Controller's role is in the establishment of the right. Irish Plant Breeders' Rights are valid only in Ireland. Fees are payable to the Office of the Controller of Plant Breeders' Rights for the services provided, and renewal fees are payable each year to maintain Rights.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets concern secret or proprietary information of commercial value. They may be appropriate when it's difficult to copy a product or process.  They are not covered by statutory provisions like other IP. A trade secret is both a type of IP and a strategy for protecting your IP. It can provide effective protection for some technologies, proprietary knowledge and know-how such a the construction or formulation or the product or the process of manufacturing the product when reverse engineering is unlikely.

Products, or the way they are made, may be (or at least include) trade secrets. Formulations, such as the concentrate for Coca-Cola, may be immensely valuable trade secrets.

Trade secret protection is afforded without registration and can last without limitation in time, generally so long as confidentiality is maintained.

Know How

Know how concerns practice knowledge and practical information acquired by experience and testing. It should be secret, substantial, identified and economically valuable which is not accessible to the public and not patented.

Confidential Information - Confidentiality Agreements

Confidential information concerns business information which a business does not wish to share with its customers or competitors.  Confidentiality agreements can be made with anyone (employees, business partners, business associates, research academics etc.) whom it is desired to impose an obligation of confidence on, regarding the use and disclosure of confidential information.

A confidentiality agreement is often used to stop employees from revealing secret knowledge during and after their employment. All trade secrets and know how should be backed up with signed confidentiality agreements with every person who has knowledge of the secret. That way if an agreement is breached, there will be evidence of what was agreed to and protection through the law.

Domain Names

Domain names are the human-friendly forms of internet addresses, and are commonly used to find web sites. With the explosive growth of the Internet, domain names have become valuable assets to businesses serving as business identifiers that may conflict with already existing business identifiers (e.g. trademarks, geographical indications, trade names, etc). While there is a debate about whether a domain name constitutes intellectual property or is instead of form of contractual arrangement, it is clear that when building a strong brand or business identifier, businesses seek to register and use the domain names identical to or incorporating their trademarks. Problems can occur when domain names incorporating trademarks or variations thereto are registered by others. However, there is a growing body of case law which can give trade mark owners (and owners of unregistered makers) the possibility of succeeding in an infringement or passing-off action by showing that an infringer is a "cybersquatter" seeking to take advantage of the trade mark owner's rights.

It should be noted that the registration of a domain name does not automatically give the owner of the domain name the right to use that name as a trade mark.

For more information on domain registration in Ireland click here

Semiconductor Topographies

ICTs (Integrated circuit topographies) refer to the three-dimensional configurations (lay-out designs) of electronic circuits used in microchips and semiconductor chips (i.e. the arrangement on a chip of semiconductor devices such as transistors and passive electronic components such as resistors and interconnections).

Council Directive 87/54/EEC or 16 December 1986 on the legal protection of topographies of semiconductor products provides for an exclusive right of protection to be granted to the person who is the topography's creator, subject to that person being a natural person who is a national of a Member State or ordinarily resident there.

In the case of Ireland, registration is not a condition for the granting of a right of protection; the rights will come into existence when the topography is first commercially exploited anywhere in the world or when it is first fixed or encoded.

The exclusive rights come to an end 10 years from the end of the calendar year in which the topography was first commercially exploited.