Intellectual Property or IP used to be known as industrial property. With the inclusion of various other works such as art and trading names which involved 3 basic elements – time, effort and money, the term changed from industrial property to intellectual property. The basic tenets for qualification of IP protection are novelty and distinctiveness.

IP registrations or regulations began from 1700s. IP basically covers the following:
1. Trademarks
2. service marks
3. copyright
4. patent
5. design
6. an extension to protection of IP are trade secrets and confidentiality.

IP rights may be a bundle or rights such as in copyright and a complete monopoly such as in patents. It may be a limited protection such as designs or last forever such as trade / service marks. There may be alternate forms of protection of IP, for instance, protection of a 3-dimensional representation by a 2-dimensional representation. If it can be proven that independent time, effort and money have been expended to arrive at a product, it may form a separate subject matter of IP protection.

3 tips on protecting your IP

1. Convert your idea into a tangible form – on paper, digital media, scraps, models
2. Use documentation to protect or prove your IP
3. Register your IP in countries you are most likely to use or where your IP may find application

With the advent of internet and new technologies such as AI, blockchain and machine learning, global application of IP has taken on different forms and one has to be more careful of violations apart from possibility of IP violation, misappropriation, infringement or passing off. Aspects of defamation by libel may also be covered in social media. Documents like confidentiality agreements, intra-companies and inter-companies are critical in IP.

Individuals or companies strive to popularize their trademarks. But in doing so, they run the risk of losing their rights when it becomes generic. Some interesting examples where you may not have know were real trademarks, but turned victims of genericization are provided below. The actual description, origination and generic names and its company owners have been included next to them.

1. Aspirin – acetylsalicylic acid; Bayer AG
2. Heroin – derived from “heroisch”, a German word; Bayer AG
3. Band-Aid – adhesive bandage or medicated plaster; Johnson & Johnson
4. Cellophane – regenerated cellulose and diaphane
5. Escalator – letter “e” + “scala”, meaning steps in Latin; Otis Elevator Co.
6. Trampoline – from “trampolin” a Spanish word for diving board
7. Thermos – vacuum flask, from the Greek word “therme” meaning heat;
8. Kerosene – combustible hydrocarbon liquid; The North American Gas Light Company
9. App store – an online store for applications; owned by Apple who abandoned it in 2013
10. ZIP code – Zone Improvement System; United States Postal Service
11. Zipper – another noun for the generic “zip”; B. F. Goodrich
12. Xerox – photocopy; Xerox Corporation

Some trademarks which are being used generically and are already generic in some countries:

1. Kleenex – facial tissue; Kimberley-Clarke
2. Frisbee – flying disc; Wham-O
3. Bubble Wrap – inflated cushioning; Sealed Air
4. Adrenalin – Epinephrine: Parke-Davis
5. Hula-hoop – toy hoop; Wham-O
6. Jacuzzi – hot tub; Jacuzzi
7. Memory stick – flash memory storage device; sony
8. Styrofoam – extruded polystyrene foam; Dow Chemical Company
9. Superglue – Cyanoacrylate adhesive; Super Glue Corporation
10. Velcro – hook and loop fasteners; Velcro Company

In fact, your word processor may not even register these as incorrect spellings and who would use the generic or correct name for some that are more appropriately named trademarks!

For partnerships, speaker and general business enquiries with 2iB Partners:

Contact Person Dylan Tan
Designation COO
Email Dylan@2ibpartners.com


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