Protect your intellectual property rights

Today’s business market is developing at very fast pace and entities are putting a lot of effort and resources into gaining leverage over their competitors on the market. Products and services are increasingly identified not only by their inherent characteristics, but also by their story and values (environmental, social and other) going beyond the basic attributes of the given product or service. Protecting the value of IP by proper means is of great importance when doing business, whether in the Czech Republic or elsewhere in the world.  

Trademarks

Under Czech law, trademarks are regulated by Act No. 441/2003 Coll., on Trademarks, as amended (the Trademark Act). The Trademark Act is harmonised with the EU legislation and governs the protection of trademarks in the territory of the Czech Republic under the Czech Intellectual Property Office (Czech IPO). EU-wide protection of trademarks and designs may also be sought via the European Union Intellectual Property Office.

A trademark is understood to be a designation consisting of, in particular, words (incl. personal names), letters, numerals, colours, drawings, shapes of products or their packaging, and sounds, provided that it is capable of (i) distinguishing the products and services of a particular entity from those of other entities, and (ii) being expressed in the Czech Trademark Register in a way that allows the respective authorities to determine the scope of rights protected by the particular trademark.

Registration of a trademark

In order to obtain an ownership title to a Czech trademark, it is necessary to register the trademark with the Czech IPO, which carries out a formal examination of the application, and only a designation that meets the legal requirements can be successfully registered. It is also important to note that a designation shall not be registered if the owner of an earlier trademark successfully opposes the registration (due to the identicalness or similarity of the earlier registered trademark). The protection period is ten years following the date of filing the application with the Czech IPO (thanks to the priority right) with the possibility of repeated renewal for another ten years.

Patents

Protection of an invention takes the form of a patent and the registration process and the patent itself are regulated by Act No. 527/1990 Coll., on Inventions and Improvement Proposals, as amended.

Registration of a patent

Again, the process of registering an invention with the Czech Patent Register is carried out via the Czech IPO. The application must include a detailed description of the invention and, most importantly, the claims for the patent. Patents are granted for inventions that are new, are the result of inventive activity and are industrially usable. Not only new products and technologies can be patented, but also chemically produced substances, pharmaceuticals, and microorganisms used in industrial production, as well as biotechnological processes and products derived from them. Conversely, it is not possible to patent discoveries or scientific theories, computer programs, new varieties of plants or breeds of animals, or ways of treating humans and animals. As for the duration of the patent, an invention is protected in the Czech Republic for 20 years following the filing date of the application (i.e. the priority date).

Utility models

A utility model is a simpler alternative to a patent for protection of a unique technical solution that is new, industrially usable and goes beyond the mere professional skills of the inventor. The principles of registration and protection of a utility model are analogous to the registration of an invention (patent protection). However, the process is faster and less costly. When paying renewal fees, a utility model’s maximum period of validity is ten years, i.e. half that of a patent.

Copyrights

The current Czech legislation governing copyrights is Act No. 121/2000 Coll., on Copyrights, as amended, and Act No. 89/2012 Coll., the Civil Code, as amended.

Ownership of copyrights

Since copyrights are exclusively associated with an author, only a natural person can be an author of a copyrighted work, i.e. a company cannot be an author.

The subject of copyright is a literary or other work of art and science, which is a unique result of the author’s creative activity and is expressed in any objectively perceptible form, including electronic, permanently or temporarily, regardless of its scope, purpose or significance. Computer program and photographs are also considered to be authorial works. Under Czech law, a copyright has two basic components: personal rights and economic rights. Different consequences are connected with each right. Copyrights are not registered in any official register (authorial works are protected at the moment the work is expressed in any objectively perceptible form), and a person other than the author cannot use a copyrighted work without the prior consent of the author. Property rights to an authorial work endure for the life of the author plus 70 years after his/her death.

There are other means of protection of intellectual property under Czech law that are not covered by this introductory article, and it is always recommended that you consult a professional to determine and set up the most suitable protection of your IP assets.

Summary of IP protection

Type of IP Protection duration Authority
Trademark 10 years (repeatedly) Czech IPO

Industrial design

5 years (max 25 years) Czech IPO
Patent 20 years Czech IPO
Utility model 4 years (max 10 years) Czech IPO
Copyright Life of an author + 70 years after his passing N/A

 

JUDr. Jakub Lichnovský, MHA
Partner
PRK Partners s.r.o. attorneys at law