Intellectual property rights in Europe

All posts Leave a comment   Published on par Jonatan Carbonell

Intellectual property is a very important matter, especially when we talk about creation and innovation. This type of property refers to the results or creations from the human mind, such as artwork, inventions, literary works, designs, etc.

When one has rights to a creation of any type one can apply for a patent, copyright or trademark to own it at a legal level. This process will allow us to take legal actions in case someone steals or uses our intellectual property without our consent or the proper procedure.

Now that we’re on the right track, you, as a potential investor or entrepreneur in European soil, might wonder how this process of acquisition of intellectual property works in Europe.

Importance of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in Europe

IPRs not only ensure the rights of the creator, in which case they must receive compensation for the (proper) use of their creations, but it also ensures the user or consumer about the origins of said creation.

For the EU growth and competition are essential for the economy’s development, for this reason, enforcing these rights is of utmost importance to support creativity and innovation.

The EU supports high IPR standards, and this gives the people the confidence to innovate and create, boosting the market, helping create jobs and reinforcing the economy.


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Intellectual Property Laws

There are different types of Intellectual Property rights and protections, and here we’re going to define them and understand their different uses and how they work, so you can choose the one who best adapts to your situation.


This type of IPR is used to protect the result of human creativity, such as expressions of ideas, creations, artwork, literary works; all of which must be original; i.e. the intellectual creation of the author.

In the EU you do not need to go through any formal application process, the copyright goes into effect as soon as the work is created. You can include the “all rights reserved” note and let people know that this work is protected under copyright law.

This protection is not eternal. Every country that signed the Berne Convention must ensure that the copyright laws are respected. In most countries the expiry date of copyright is 50 years after the death of the author; however in the EU the time has recently been extended to 70 years.

Within copyrights you also enjoy a couple exclusive rights:

Economic rights

This grants the author total authority related to producing, reproducing, sharing or distributing their work, partially or as a whole. Whether translation or adaptation to another form (from book to film, etc), it is all up to the author. These rights are transferable, and can be sold to a third party.

Moral rights

These rights are non-transferable, but the author can renounce them by written agreement. Moral rights include the right to keep the work from being changed, altered or used in any way that damages the author or their reputation, the right to use a pseudonym or remain anonymous and the right to receive credit for the work.

In case of joint works the copyright expires 70 years(or 50, according to the country) after the death of the last surviving author, and to be able to publish or adapt it or make use of it in any way, the authorization of all authors is indispensable.


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This type of IPR has a limited duration of usually 20 years, and the subjects of its protection are inventions or discoveries.

As long as your patent is in force no one can use your product, sell it, export or import it or even develop another product or process based on your patented invention. You can give temporary permission to someone to use your invention or you can directly sell the patent.

After the expiration date you cannot renew the patent.

There are different kinds of patents and therefore, different procedures. You can choose if you want a national patent (only for the country you’re residing), an EU patent (for the whole European territory) or a worldwide patent. In each case you  have to get in touch with different entities and follow their respective procedures.

Trade Mark

This type protects phrases, words or symbols characteristic of a product, i.e. that which makes it easier to differentiate from others, makes it stand out. A few examples of it are Mc Donald’s “M”, the 3 stripes of adidas, nike’s swoosh, etc.

If you want to register a trademark in the EU you can go to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and apply for an European trademark registration. This office is located in Alicante, Spain.

The process of an EU trademark registration is cheaper than a national TM registration, but it is also more risky.

Your trademark must be distinctive and not descriptive, and to make sure it complies with all the requirements the EUIPO will check on all countries the presence of it. However, any country of the EU can have an objection to your ™ registration, which most likely will lead to it being refused. You must also take into consideration that the fees for applying for registration are non-refundable.


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Trade Secret

This refers to a particular information, process, software invention or strategy that gives its holder a competitive advantage in the market. A good example of this type of IPR are recipes.

This type of protection is very particular. The information to be protected must comply with some requirements, such as: not being widely known by the public, hold some commercial value and being protected under non-disclosure agreements if necessary.

The fact that you have a trade secret does not mean you own the information per se; if someone else, by their own means reaches the same conclusions as you and develops the same information, they can use it freely.

You are still protected against theft, dishonest behavior and leaking; which means you can make a trial against anyone who has been in contact with you and your secret and makes unauthorized use of it or discloses it.

The world of intellectual property rights is vast and sometimes a little difficult. We want to be of help and support you to make the best decisions for you and your business.

Knowledge is essential for success and we are more than happy to share ours with you. Do not hesitate and contact us to start the adventure of your life with the best partner, TAS Consulting, your trusted partner in Spain!


Published on par Jonatan Carbonell

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