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  • 1.4 Registered Intellectual Property
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"The patent for the a "system for creating a galvanic connection and attaching objects." was granted to Jussi Mikkonen and Jaana Rantanen
in 2005. Today, it is in public domain. The inventors decided to let the patent expire to further the field of wearable computing."
Photo: Anna Keune

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In addition to the copyright, also other forms of protection are used in business such as trademark protection, domain names,  the registered design right, protection of utility models and  patents.

In the case of registered  intellectual property protection, it is of primary importance that the registration of rights is sought first, and company names, designs and research results are only then made public. 

The external appearance of the product can be protected with design protection and, after design protection, with copyright, and in marketing one can utilize trademark protection. The exterior appearance of a product and its packaging can be protected by design protection, copyright and trademark protection simultaneously. Often it is not enough to trust copyright protection for design, as a high level of originality is often needed  for design to achieve copyright protection. The level of originality required varies from country to country, so to ensure protection for design in EU it is advisable to register a Registered Community Design in OHIM. OHIM has a website, where it is possible to view what has been already registered and to register a new design online. In  April 2012 the fee for one registration is 350 euros.

For design right, a 12 month 'grace period' is available for registered design protection in Finland and in the EU. However, if  the product might be used also in Asia, a design must be protected first, and only after that disclosed.  Designs that are already made available to the public are no longer considered new and thus not eligible for protection in Japan or China. If international protection is sought, one must first register and only then publish the product, e.g. at a trade fair, in a publication or an exhibition. 

Inventiveness of a product can be protected by a patent and utility model protection. Patent databases are a source of information to both researchers and entrepreneurs. It is important to get a view of the "patent landscape"  when starting research on a subject and a help of a patent professional is needed for evaluating an invention. A patent professional is needed in filing a patent, and drafting a patent registration application takes  several months or a year, so patenting should be started well before a publishing deadline. In US the provisional patent is a practical solution to situations when patent application should be filed on a short notice.

Branding is central to business activities. The cornerstone of the legal protection of a brand is the trade mark protection. Copyright, too, can be used to protect brand elements such as the interior decoration of a shop, cartoon characters or marketing photography. Trade mark protection is perpetual if the company renews it. Protection can be renewed for 10 years at a time. This allows the building of the brand's value from decade or century to another. Finland's oldest still existing registered trade mark is Fazer's Kiss Kiss, which was registered in 1901.   

The Kaupparekisteri provides basic information on starting a company. For more information on the topic, also see the section '[Links for Entrepreneurs and Start-ups' of this article.

Trade marks are marks that businesses use to distinguish the goods or services they offer from other companies' goods and services.

A design right protects the external appearance of an object or ornament.

In all EU Member states, one can apply for community design right protection as well as community trade mark protection with one registration. [1]

Patents are granted for inventions that can be used industrially. Utility models may be granted for inventions that are not sufficiently inventive to obtain a patent.

Notes and References

[1] Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Design)