Author: Kristina Vilkiene, Assistant Attorney-at-Law in METIDA
In today’s market a competitive advantage is intangible assets. Usually companies pay attention to the tangible assets accounting, therefore the usual procedures carried out by the auditors are orientated towards the estimation of company’s financial accountability. However, questions whether the intangible assets are appropriately valued and used, and whether commercial secrets are protected from their unauthorised use are not considered. And thus, the intangible assets are often left in the ‘grey zone’.
How to protect one’s ideas?
The fast approaching World Intellectual Property Day, which will be on the 26th of April, is an opportunity for every proprietor of intellectual property (IP) to look at the objects of immaterial property from a new perspective regardless of the portfolio size of the intangible assets.
In order for the company to be able to effectively use its manageable intangible assets it is crucial to self-assess every manageable IP object’s legal protection limits, as well as the given prerogatives. This is so, because ever-changing legal acts’ requirements and intermittent courts’ practice together change separate protection limits of intellectual property objects, their usage peculiarities and also the opportunities for the available prerogatives of intellectual property objects to appeal in case of an argument with third parties.
After the famous IP TRANSLATOR case, the evaluation of the lists of legal goods and services, which determine the specific extent to which a trademark is protected, has changed in all the European Union. The changing courts’ practice is also formulating new criteria for the sufficiency of trademark use. Since in trademark law an opportunity to abolish a trademark when it is not used in legal acts for a certain period of time is anticipated, it is very important to double check whether, for example, the use of the Community trademark is sufficient enough regardless of whether it is actually used in a certain market according to the newly formulated criterion.
When a trademark is changing, the extent of its protection is changing too
On the other hand, even intensively used trademarks change throughout time, therefore it is crucial to evaluate changes of the image, shrift and colour, as they in a way decrease the limits of legal protection. And thus, while using a changed trademark it can be revealed that the protection provided for the primary trademark registration is no longer applicable for the new trademark version.
Therefore, if the intellectual property proprietors want to be sure that the protection scope of their IP objects is the same one which is necessary for the appropriate and effective use of these objects, it is recommended to constantly look through one’s intellectual property portfolios to evaluate that the protection of intellectual property is sufficient enough and meets its proprietor’s expectations and needs.