Registered intellectual property rights, such as patents, registered designs, or trade marks, are a powerful deterrent to competitors who may be “inspired” by your brand or technology. This is in large part because they are considered prima facie valid; this means, in essence, that they are valid until proven otherwise (usually by the person you’re enforcing those rights against). The relative ease of enforcement of registered rights has a desirable chilling effect on would-be copycats.
It is equally true, though, that many fruits of a business’s innovation cycle are either not neatly registrable, or if registrable, are things you might not wish to register because of all of the public disclosure that goes along with that process, particularly in the case of patents.
A good example of the first category – an intangible asset you cannot register, at least in the UK – is works of copyright, such as music, photography, paintings, or software source code. Copyright subsists by operation of law (that is, automatically) when certain requirements – originality being the most important of all – are met.
A good example of the second category – something you might be able to register, perhaps as a design or patent, but do not wish to – are trade secrets that are proprietary to your business. To get a patent granted, you must essentially disclose step-by-step instructions for how competitors can replicate your invention or technology once the term of the patent comes to an end. This disclosure is not all bad – it advances collective human knowledge, after all and you make the disclosure in exchange for what is a very powerful right while the granted patent is in force – but once the patent expires, the information is in the public domain.
Any unregistered intellectual property right must be proved from scratch whenever you get into a dispute about it. Proving these rights is where intending claimants often run into problems. Who designed what? When did they do it? What was their relationship to the business at the time? Can you prove all these points?
Even if your business keeps meticulous records during the innovation process, by their nature, your own internal documents can always be challenged and impugned by the counterparty to your dispute.
WIPO PROOF is an online service, launched and run by WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organisation) itself, that addresses this problem by bringing more certainty and objectivity to documenting your business’s innovation.
Whether it’s creative work (such as music, or a new textile design), trade secrets, data, research findings, know-how, software source code, or anything else that your business considers an intangible asset and wishes to protect, WIPO PROOF is an excellent platform for documenting the time and particulars of its creation externally but confidentially.
The platform allows you to upload documents for safekeeping in the cloud; needless to say, they are kept strictly confidential, not being visible to third parties, and are protected by the latest online security protocols. Crucially, WIPO PROOF filings receive a date and time stamp, and can be relied on later as evidence of your innovation, should a dispute arise. As such, a WIPO PROOF filing can help settle, or even pre-empt, any disputes related to unregistered IP rights.
Contact us today if you would like advice on or help with a WIPO PROOF filing.