Intellectual property law
Intellectual property law
- Protection of inventions in Spain
- Industrial designs
- Unfair competition
- Trade secrets
Spanish Intellectual Property (“IP”) legislation is consistent with other EU Member States’ IP laws. Spain has ratified the most relevant international treaties in this field, which entails that non-Spanish nationals may obtain protection of their IP rights in Spain, and that Spanish nationals may obtain such protection in virtually every other country in the world. This chapter describes the different ways existing to protect IP rights (trade marks, patents, utility models, plant varieties, industrial designs, topographies of semiconductor products, trade secrets, copyright and computer software) in Spain, also focusing on the legal remedies available against IP infringement..
A trademark is an exclusive right in a distinctive sign the main function of which is to distinguish the goods and services of one undertaking from those of its competitors. It also plays an important role in advertising and goodwill consolidation.By filing an application at the Spanish Patents and Trademarks Office (SPTO). The application process takes approximately between 6 and 15 months. Spanish trademarks may consist of words, names or surnames, signatures, numbers and number combinations, slogans, drawings, sounds, colors and three-dimensional shapes, including packaging.
Patents are exclusive rights granted by the State to the inventor in his invention for a specific term (20 years) on the understanding that once this period has expired, the invention will enter the public domain. Thus society benefits from the technical advantage provided by the invention.In addition to filing a patent application at the SPTO, regional registration systems are also available. Such systems allow the applicant to obtain protection for the invention in one or more countries and each country determines whether or not to protect the patent in its territory pursuant to applicable legislation. The application process before the SPTO can take a minimum of 30 months. The patent owner may exploit the invention and prevent third parties from exploiting, marketing, or launching it in the market without consent. While the patent is in force, third parties may only exploit the invention if the owner has granted a license.
Industrial designs are industrial property rights that protect the aesthetic appearance of goods rather than their functional novelty. Therefore, the owner of an industrial design has exclusive rights in the appearance of the whole or part of a product (in particular, the lines, contours, colors, shape, texture or materials of the product itself or its ornamentation), if it is novel and has individual character. A design is considered to meet the novelty requirement if no other identical design has been made available to the public beforehand. Two designs are deemed to be identical where they only differ in irrelevant aspects. As far as individual character is concerned, a design is considered to have individual character if the overall impression it produces on the informed user differs from the overall impression produced by any design that has been made available to the public beforehand.
Copyright generates various types of rights, economic rights and “moral” rights. Moral rights cannot be waived or assigned and they entitle the author to decide, inter alia, whether his work is to be published and to demand acknowledgement as author of the work. Consequently, economic or exploitation rights can be traded and transferred to third parties. All literary, artistic or scientific works which are original are protected by copyright, in particular, books, music compositions, audiovisual works, projects, plans, graphics, computer programs and databases. The Copyright Law also grants related rights to performers, phonogram producers, producers of audiovisual recordings and broadcasting organizations. In Spain, copyright protection is automatic, since it exists from the very moment the work is created. However, it is also possible to register the work on the Copyright Register in order to obtain stronger evidence vis-à-vis third parties.The application for registration in the Copyright Registry requires payment of the corresponding fees to the Provincial Registry in question. The time for the Registry to issue a decision is approximately 6 months.
Any conduct objectively contrary to good faith is deemed to be unfair. The amendments introduced by Law 29/2009 significantly extend the scope of consumer protection, whereby in relations between businesses or professionals and consumers, there are two requirements for behavior to be deemed unfair: that the behavior of the business or professional be contrary to professional diligence and capable of significantly distorting the economic behavior of the average consumer. Intellectual property can often be protected via unfair competition legislation.
Although there are many similarities with intellectual property rights, a trade secret does not fall within this category. The intangible asset which is protected is information. Information, relating to any part of the business (including technological, scientific, industrial, commercial, organizational or financial areas), may constitute a trade secret, provided it meets three requirements: It must be secret, meaning that it is not generally known among or readily accessible to persons within the circles that normally deal with it. It must have commercial value because it is secret. Reasonable steps must be adopted by its holder to keep it secret.
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