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Patent: Introduction to Patents

 Patent

What is a patent?

A patent is a legal monopoly granted by a government in return for public disclosure of an invention.  A granted patents gives the proprietor the right to prevent others using the invention in the territory to which the patent applies.  It does not, however, give a positive right to use an invention.  There may be earlier patents for other inventions that an inventor may need to license to exploit his own invention.

How long does patent protection last?

In most countries a patents can last for twenty years from the date of application.  However this is usually dependent upon the payment of annual renewal fees to keep the patents in force.

What can I obtain a patent for?

Patents can be obtained for inventions that, in general, are new and useful products and methods.  Patentable inventions must involve an ‘inventive step’, which means that the invention must be distinguished from what was known previously (the ‘prior art’) by more than a trivial or obvious feature.  A patentable invention could relate, for example, to an entirely new product, a new part for a more complex overall product, a new method of making a product or a new method of using a product.

Are there restrictions on what can be patented?

Yes.  In Europe, certain categories of invention are excluded from patentability.  Some of these categories are considered to be insufficiently technical to be appropriate for patents protection.  Examples include scientific discoveries, mathematical methods, methods of doing business, presentations of information and aesthetic creations.  In other cases, such as certain medical methods, there are exclusions for policy reasons.  However in practice there are often ways to avoid the

exclusions.  For example, a scientific discovery may not be patentable, but an application of that discovery in a product may be patentable, or a medical method may not be patentable but a new product for use in the method may be patentable.  It should not, therefore, be assumed that an invention cannot be patented before talking to a patent attorney.  Exclusions also vary from country to country.  Historically, the USA was more willing to grant patents for subject-matter that would have been excluded in Europe as relating to unallowable business methods of computer programs.  However, in more recent years, the USA has become more strict about that type of subject-matter too.

Can I tell people about my invention before I file a patent?

In general, an invention must be kept secret until application is filed.  This is because an invention must be unknown to the public before the filing date of the application, in order for it to be obtained.  Therefore any public disclosure of the invention before the application is filed could prevent the application from being granted.

What if my invention has already been publicly disclosed?

Certain disclosures can be disregarded – such as those arising from a breach of confidence or displaying the invention at certain international exhibitions – if an application is filed quickly enough after the disclosure.  In addition, some countries offer ‘grace’ periods to disregard disclosures that have originated from the inventor and/or proprietor.  If a disclosure has occurred, we recommend you discuss it with a patent attorney as soon as possible to determine if it is still possible to file a patent application.

What can I do with?

It allows the proprietor to exploit his or her invention free of competition from others.  They can choose to work the patents themselves, for example by manufacturing the patented product, or they can choose to license other people to use the invention.  If anyone uses the patented invention without a licence, they can be sued by the proprietor.  If an infringe is successfully prosecuted, they can be stopped and ordered to pay damages and costs.

How do I obtain a patent?

It is obtained by filing an application with the appropriate Patent Office.  Most countries have a national patent system run by a national Patent Office.  There are also some regional Patent Offices, such as the European Patent Office, that offer the opportunity to file a single application to obtain protection in many countries.

What does a patent application contain?

application has two main parts: the description of the invention and the claims.  The description is a disclosure of how the invention works.  The claims define the protection sought by the applicant.

What are the basic requirements for the description?

The description must be clear and sufficient to enable another person to reproduce the invention and its advantages.  It is intended to be read by other practitioners in the relevant technological field, and so reasonable knowledge of the relevant technology is assumed.

What are the basic requirements for the claims?

The claims must be clear and relate to the invention described in the description.  The claims must define an invention that is different from anything already known (the “prior art”).  However the claims must also be drafted with care so that the protection obtained for the invention is not unnecessarily reduced.  This is where the services of a patent attorney can be particularly important.

What costs are there associated with obtaining a patent?

Obtaining patents can be expensive, especially if protection is desired in many countries and translation of the patent application is required.  The initial costs relate to drafting and filing the application.  After that, there are costs associated with responding to any objections being raised by the Patent Office, and there are often additional fees to be paid before a patent is granted.

Are there any costs after a patent has been granted?

Most countries charge renewal fees which must be paid after the patent is granted.  Sometimes renewal fees must be paid while the application is pending, before the patent is granted.  Payment of renewal fees keeps the application or patent from being considered withdrawn.  The renewal cost generally increases during the term of a patent and varies by country.  If the proprietor wishes to enforce the patent there will be legal costs associated with suing the infringer, which can be very significant.

Is it necessary to seek patents protection in all countries at the same time?

When a patent application is filed in one country, equivalent cases directed to the same invention can be filed in other countries within one year and claim the “priority date” of the initial filing.  This means that they are regarded as having been filed when the first case was filed.  Thus the applicant has at least this year long period from filing an initial application in their own country to decide whether to spend money filing applications abroad.

When can I enforce my patent?

While a patents application is pending, the proprietor’s rights are very limited.  A patent cannot usually be enforced until it has been granted.

Read more: Intellectual Property Rights

Trademark

Copyright

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Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual Properties Rights

Intellectual property rights (IPR) are the rights given to persons over the creations of their minds. Such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; symbols, names and images that are mostly used in commerce. They usually give their creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time and they enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create.

Intellectual Property Rights categories

  1. Copyright and rights related to copyright:
    Copyright is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps and technical drawings.
  2. Industrial property:
    Industrial property can also be divided into two main areas:
    – the protection of distinctive signs: This particularly includes trademarks and geographical indications. The importance of this is to help ensuring fair competition and the protection of the consumers, by enabling them to make informed choices between various goods and services.


-the protection of stimulating innovations: This includes patents, industrial designs and trade secrets. The purpose is to provide protection for the results of investment in the development of new technology, thus giving the incentive and means to finance research and development activities.

In other words,

Type of creation                                                                    Intellectual Property Rights

1- Literary, artistic and scientific works                                                Copyright

2- Performances of performing artists, phonogram
    recordings by producers, and rights of
    broadcasters over radio and TV programs                                  Related rights or     
                                                                                                               neighboring rights

3- Inventions                                                                               Patents and utility models

4- Product Appearance                                                                           Design

5- Signs – words – phrases – symbols – designs (or a
    combination of these) which are used as brands
     of goods and services                                                                       Trade mark

Therefore, and for the importance of the protection of those kinds of innovations and creations, the Egyptian Legislature enacted Law no. 82 of 2002 imposing sanctions and punishments on whoever violates the provisions of this law, divided as follows;

1- In relation to Patents and Utility Models:
Article 32;
Without prejudice to the provisions of Article 10, shall be subject to a fine of not less than 20,000 pounds and not more than 100,000 pounds any party who undertakes:

(1) the imitation, for commercialization purposes, of the subject matter of an invention or a utility model for which a patent has been granted in accordance with the provisions of this Law;

(2) the sale, offer for sale or circulation, importation or possession with the intention to trade, of products known to that party as imitations, where the patent for the invention or the utility model for such products is granted and valid in Egypt;

(3) the unlawful use, on products, advertisements, trademarks, packaging or others, of indications that may lead to believe that such a party has obtained a patent for an invention or a utility model. Repetition of the offence shall be punishable by imprisonment for a period of no more than two years and by a fine of not less than 40,000 pounds and not more than 200,000 pounds.

2- In relation to Layout-Designs for Integrated Circuits, and Undisclosed Information

Article 61; Without prejudice to any more severe punishment stipulated under any other law, any person who uses an illegal means to disclose information protected by the provisions of this Law, acquire or use such an information while aware of its confidentiality and that it was acquired by such illegal means, shall be punishable by a fine of not less than 10,000 pounds and not more than 50,000 pounds. In case of repetition, the punishment shall be an imprisonment for a period of not more than two years and a fine of not less than 50,000 pounds and not more than 100,000 pounds.

3- In relation to Marks, Tradenames, and Geographical Indications

Article 113; Without prejudice to any more severe punishment under any other law, shall be punishable by imprisonment for a period of not less than two months and by a fine of not less than 5,000 pounds and not more than 20,000 pounds, or by either punishment, any person who: (1) counterfeits a trademark registered in accordance with the law or imitates it in a manner which is likely to mislead the public; (2) fraudulently uses counterfeit or imitated trademarks; (3) fraudulently affixes to his products a trademark belonging to a third party; (4) knowingly sells, offers for sale or distributes, or acquires for the purpose of sale, products bearing a counterfeit or imitated mark, or on which the mark was unlawfully affixed. In case of repetition, the offence shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term of not less than two months and by a fine of not less than 10,000 pounds and not more than 50,000 pounds.

Article 114; Without prejudice to any more severe punishment under any other law, shall be punishable by imprisonment for a period of not less than one month and by a fine of not less than 2,000 pounds and not more than 10,000 pounds or by either punishment any person who:

(1) affixes a false trade indication to his products, on or inside his shops or warehouses, on signboards, packaging, invoices, correspondence, advertisements or any other means used for offering the products to the public;

(2) fraudulently places on his marks or commercial documents an indication that leads to believe that such mark has been registered;

(3) uses a mark that has not been registered, in the cases provided for in paragraphs 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8 of Article 67;

(4) mentions medals, diplomas, awards or other honorary distinctions of any kind whatsoever, in relation to the products in respect of which such distinctions do not apply, or in relation to the persons or commercial names who did not acquire them;

(5) participates with others in exhibiting products and uses for his own private products the distinctions granted to the jointly exhibited products, unless he indicates in a clear manner the source and nature of such distinctions;

(6) affixes on the products of his own trade, in a place especially reputed for the production of a certain product, geographical indications in such a manner as to mislead the public to believe that those products were produced in that place;

(7) uses any means for the designation or exhibition of products in a manner that may mislead the public as to the production of those goods in a geographical place especially reputed rather than the real place of origin of such products;

(8) manufactures a product in a place especially reputed for its production and who affixes a geographical indication on similar products he produces in other places in such a way as to suggest that such goods were produced in the said place.

And in case of repetition, such an offence shall be punishable by imprisonment for a period of not less than one month and by a fine of not less than 4,000 pounds and not more than 20,000 pounds.

4- In relation to Industrial Designs

Article 134; Without prejudice to any more severe punishment stipulated under any other law, shall be punishable by a fine of not less than 4,000 pounds and not more than 10,000 pounds any person who:

(1) imitates a protected industrial design registered according to the provisions of this Law;

(2) knowingly, manufactures, sells, offers for sale, acquires for trade or circulation, products bearing imitated industrial designs;

(3) unlawfully affixes on products, advertisements, trademarks, certain implements or the like, indications that may lead to believe that such a person has registered an industrial design. In case of repetition, the punishment shall be imprisonment for a period of not less than one month and a fine of not less than 8,000 pounds and not more than 20,000 pounds.

5- In relation to Copyrights and Related Rights

Article 181; Without prejudice to any more severe sanction under any other law, shall be punishable by imprisonment for a period of not less than one month and by a fine of not less than 5,000 pounds and not more than 10,000 pounds, or any of those sanctions, any person who commits any of the following acts:

(1) Selling, renting or putting in circulation under any form, a work, a sound recording or a broadcast program protected under this Law, without a prior written authorization from the author or the owner of the related right;

(2) Knowingly imitating, selling, offering for sale, circulation or rental, a work, a sound recording or a broadcast program;

(3) Knowingly imitating within the country, selling, offering for sale or circulation, renting or exporting to a foreign country a work, a sound recording or a broadcast program published in a foreign country;

(4) Dissemination through computer networks, Internet, information networks, communication networks and other means of technology of a work, an sound recording, a broadcast program 57 or a performance protected under this Law, without a prior written authorization from the author or the owner of the related right;

(5) Manufacturing, assembling or importing for the purpose of sale or rent any device, tool or implement especially designed or made to circumvent a technical protection means, such as encryption or the like, used by the author or the owner of the related right;

(6) Removing, neutralizing or disabling, in bad faith, any technical protection device used by the author or the owner of the related rights;

(7) Infringing any of the moral or economic copyrights or related rights provided for in this Law. Sanctions shall be multiplied according to the number of infringed works, sound recordings, broadcast programs or performances. In case of repetition, the punishment shall consist of imprisonment for a period of not less than three months and a fine of not less than 10,000 pounds and not more than 50,000 pounds.

6- In relation to Plant Varieties

Article 203; Without prejudice to any more severe punishment under any other law, deliberate violation of the provisions contained in this Book shall be punishable by a fine of not less than 10,000 pounds and not more than 50,000 pounds. In case of repetition, the punishment shall be an imprisonment for a period of not less than three months and not more than one year and a fine of not less than 20,000 pounds and not more than 100,000 pounds.

Read more: Copyright

Trademark

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Trademark: All you need to know

trademark

What Is a Trademark?

A trademark is a recognizable insignia, phrase, word, or symbol that denotes a specific product and legally differentiates it from all other products of its kind. A trademark exclusively identifies a product as belonging to a specific company and recognizes the company’s ownership of the brand.

Similar to a trademark, a service mark identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product, and the term “trademark” is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks. Trademarks are generally considered a form of intellectual property.

Understanding Trademarks

A trademark can be a corporate logo, a slogan, a brand, or simply the name of a product. For example, few would think of bottling a beverage and naming it Coca Cola or of using the famous wave from its logo. It is clear by now that the name “Coca Cola,” and its logo belong to The Coca-Cola Company (KO).

Trademarking, however, does contain some fuzzy boundaries because it prohibits any marks that have a “likelihood of confusion” with an existing one. A business cannot thus use a symbol or brand name if it looks similar, sounds similar, or has a similar meaning to one that’s already on the books—especially if the products or services are related.

A trademark protects words and design elements that identify the source, owner, or developer of a product or service. Different than a trademark, a patent safeguards an original invention for a certain period of time, and there can be many different types of patents. Unlike patents, copyrights protect “works of authorship,” such as writing, art, architecture, and music.

Why Use a Trademark?

Individuals and companies have products or services trademarked to protect the product from being used without the permission of the source company. Most countries have patent laws that are designed to protect against copyright infringement. In the United States, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) serves this function.

Although most countries have agencies through which businesses can have their products trademarked, international copyright regulation is more complicated than in the U.S., as there exists no universally recognized patent office, rules, or consistency.

A company or individual does not need to register a trademark to receive protection rights, but there are certain legal benefits to registering the mark with the USPTO. Trademark and copyright law rarely overlap, but it can happen—for instance, when a graphic illustration is used as a logo, the design may be protected both under copyright and trademark law.

Trademarks can be bought and sold. Famously, Nike, Inc. (NKE) purchased the instantly recognizable Swoosh logo in 1971 from a graphic arts student for a one-time price of $35. Trademarks also can be licensed to other companies for an agreed-upon time or under certain conditions, which can result in crossover brands.

Read more: Copyright

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Merger: Types of mergers

Merger

Conglomerate merger

This is a merger between two or more companies engaged in unrelated business activities. The firms may operate in different industries or in different geographical regions. A pure conglomerate involves two firms that have nothing in common. A mixed conglomerate, on the other hand, takes place between organizations that, while operating in unrelated business activities, are actually trying to gain product or market extensions through the merger.

Companies with no overlapping factors will only merge if it makes sense from a shareholder wealth perspective, that is, if the companies can create synergy. A conglomerate was formed when The Walt Disney Company merged with the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in 1995.

Congeneric

A congeneric merger is also known as a Product Extension merger. In this type, it is a combining of two or more companies that operate in the same market or sector with overlapping factors, such as technology, marketing, production processes, and research and development (R&D). A product extension merger is achieved when a new product line from one company is added to an existing product line of the other company. When two companies become one under a product extension, they are able to gain access to a larger group of consumers and, thus, a larger market share. An example of a congeneric merger is Citigroup’s 1998 union with Travelers Insurance, two companies with complementing products.

Market Extension

This type of merger occurs between companies that sell the same products but compete in different markets. Companies that engage in a market extension merger seek to gain access to a bigger market and, thus, a bigger client base. To extend their markets, Eagle Bancshares and RBC Centura merged in 2002.

Horizontal

It’s occurs between companies operating in the same industry. The merger is typically part of consolidation between two or more competitors offering the same products or services. Such mergers are common in industries with fewer firms, and the goal is to create a larger business with greater market share and economies of scale since competition among fewer companies tends to be higher. The 1998 merger of Daimler-Benz and Chrysler is considered a horizontal merger.

Vertical

When two companies that produce parts or services for a product merger the union is referred to as a vertical merger. A vertical merger occurs when two companies operating at different levels within the same industry’s supply chain combine their operations. Such mergers are done to increase synergies achieved through the cost reduction which results from merging with one or more supply companies. One of the most well-known examples of a vertical merger took place in 2000 when internet provider America Online (AOL) combined with media conglomerate Time Warner.

Example of a Merger

Anheuser-Busch InBev is an example of how mergers work and unite companies together. The company is the result of multiple mergers, consolidation, and market extensions in the beer market. The newly named company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, is the result of the mergers of three large international beverage companies—Interbrew (Belgium), Ambev (Brazil), and Anheuser-Busch (United States).

Ambev merged with Interbrew uniting the number three and five largest brewers in the world. When Ambev and Anheuser-Busch merged, it united the number one and two largest brewers in the world. This example represents both horizontal merger and market extension as it was industry consolidation but also extended the international reach of all the combined company’s brands.

The largest mergers in history have totaled over $100 billion each. In 2000, Vodafone acquired Mannesmann for $181 billion to create the world’s largest mobile telecommunications company. Same year, AOL and Time Warner vertically merged in a $164 million deal considered one of the biggest flops ever. In 2014, Verizon Communications bought out Vodafone’s 45% stake in Vodafone Wireless for $130 billion.

Read more: Mergers and Acquisitions

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Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and Acquisitions
M&A Merger And Acquisitions Concept. Chart with keywords and icons

Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A): is a general term used to describe the consolidation of companies or assets through various types of financial transactions; including mergers, acquisitions, consolidations, tender offers, purchase of assets and management acquisitions.

While some may think mergers and acquisitions nearly mean the same, both terminologies hold slightly different meanings.

An acquisition happens when one firm purchases most or all of another firm’s shares, in order to gain control of that firm. In other words, purchasing more than 50% of a target firm’s stock and other assets allows the acquirer to make decisions about the newly acquired assets without the approval of the other shareholders of the firm. An acquisition could be horizontal, vertical, congenic or conglomerate.

Mergers and Acquisitions type

Horizontal Acquisition:

the biggest factor in any business is competition. If the entity has to grow in the market, it will have to constantly try to maximize its shares. An entity, which is thriving at the same stage of production, capacity and serving the same class of customer, will be considered as the competitor, so in order to cover the market, either entity will have to serve better quality of products or try to eliminate the competition, which can be easily eliminated by acquiring the competitor. This is termed a horizontal acquisition.

Vertical Acquisition:

A vertical acquisition can be done by either backward integration or forward integration. Where a wholesaler is having a monopoly in the trading, this will acquire any manufacturing unit producing the same commodity to be considered as backward integration, as it will help in obtaining the inventories at highly reasonable rates. Whilst, if the same wholesaler acquires retail stores, it will be considered as forwarding integration. This will give direct customer facing, which will help in earning the retail level profit. The above process is termed a vertical acquisition.

Congeneric Acquisition:

Due to the lacking in time we’re having recently, consumers prefer one stop-shop to optimize time for shopping by acquiring all the necessities from the same roof. This is why shopping malls have thrived in the market.

This helps individuals to satisfy their various needs from the same vendor, which will not only save time but will also put pressure on them to ensure better quality of the products. Which enables the vendor to offer various products together, which will help in, satisfy the single need of the customer, and helps the acquirer to enjoy a different area of the same industry that will be served to the same customer.

Conglomerate Acquisition:

Conglomerate Acquisition occurs in between the entity that is completely indifferent product line, different geographies, and different customer base and has a completely different business model. This means, such firms will be having nothing common in them and they plan to undertake such acquisition to diversify their risk and try to cover the new market. Such types of acquisition will help to provide the existing products to the customers of the newly acquired company and vice versa.

However, a merger is an agreement that unites two existing companies into one brand new company. Mergers are most commonly done to gain market share, reduce costs of operations, expand to new territories, unite common products, grow revenues, and increase profits—all of which should benefit the firms’ original shareholders. Mergers have various types, conglomerate merger, congeneric (product extension merger), market extension, horizontal, and vertical.

Read more: The Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA)

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