Page 4: Supporting Business
The Patent Office, including the Trade Marks and Designs Registries, fosters industry and commerce within a secure and disciplined framework. Growth in these areas is dependent upon the creativity of the inventor, the investment necessary to develop and establish new ideas, plus the ability to market them effectively.
Intellectual property rights play an important part in bringing these various factors together. They give legal recognition to the ownership of new ideas or brand names and give owners the right to stop others exploiting their property. They protect innovators so that they can benefit from their efforts.
Patents provide monopoly rights for a period of time. This encourages inventors and businesses to take on the risks of developing new products and processes. It is only by being the sole supplier of a product for a number of years or by licensing others, that an investor may see profit. The patent system ensures that the details of the invention are made public, thereby promoting the development of technological skills and knowledge throughout the economy.
Patent specifications are a vital source of both technical and commercial information which can help companies maintain their competitive edge. They help companies reduce the level of repetition, minimise the risk of infringing others’ rights, gain inspiration, solve technical problems and keep an eye on competitors’ activities.
Trade marks and design registration protect the owner from unfair competition, e.g. through piracy. Trade marks are often the single most valuable tool a company will have, as they protect the goodwill and reputation of the firm and its products. A company may go to court to ensure that other companies do not pass off their goods and services as those of the company entitled to the reputation in the trade mark. Product design may be crucial for the market success or failure of the product regardless of its other attributes.