Since I moved in to Denmark and officially become a Copenhagener, I have attended and still been attending plenty of business and entrepreneurship related events, such as course, seminars, talk-shows, and workshops, which surprisingly intensive in this city, and many of them are opened for free. It must have been caused by “the best place of doing business in Europe” title given to Copenhagen by The World Bank, and many other prominent consulting firms. Competing with Stockholm which has claimed itself as “the capital of Scandinavia”, Copenhagen is also the central of internationalization and multiculturalism.
At least I can still feel alive by reminiscing my past career as an entrepreneur before I migrated to Denmark. Afterall, surrounded myself with creative and full of idea people is always a positive thing.
About two weeks ago, I signed up for a seminar on intellectual property right in Denmark, held by Lassen Richard law firm and conducted at DTU (Danmarks Tekniske Universitet).
When come across the words of intellectual property right, many people probably have no clue what “intellect” here means, or some probably come up with words such as patent and copyright, which are true in terms of examples.
The firm simply defined intellectual property right as intangible property that is the result of creativity. It covers broad areas of protections and acknowledgements, but these are the common products of intellectual property, at least in Denmark:
- Trade Secrets
- License Agreement
I will not cover them all in this blog; only those which are most familiar among start-up community.
Patent results a 20-year-monopoly and can only be given to means of product, service, or idea which is innovative and revolutionary. The invention of many electronic gadgets can be an example for items for patent. Because patent gives the inventor or company a long period of business and profit privilege from other to take the same idea or just develop one, patent can cost extremely expensive.
There is another form of patent which only gives 10-year-monopoly right. It is called patent for utility model and is only given to product, service, and idea which has less emphasis on innovation and stress of the utility revolution. The inventor of wheeled luggage, Bernard D. Sadow, constantly received patent payment for any company which produces wheeled luggage based on his first prototype of a very important utility revolution in traveling.
Patent is a big step in protecting one’s innovation and curbing profit in to one’s pool, as it stops anyone else from trading one’s product, service, or idea within certain region.
Certain region? Yes, that is why you can see one product being safely patented in the U.S., but flying around in China like a cheap flash disk. It is perhaps because the innovator did not register patent in China for the same product (but it’s China anyway…your idea can be copied in second without shame for stealing other’s intellectual property).
Theories, nature, and business method are example of non-patent-able items. It is because such examples are given. However in the U.S., business method can be patented. BCG (Boston Consulting Group) and GE (General Electric) model are the examples of business methods which hold patent registry in the U.S.
Patent is so complex that many venture capitalists suggested founders to use patent agencies such as PVS, EPO, and NPI.
Remember the most sacred parts when it comes to intellectual property: Non-disclosure Agreement! A disclosure prior to filing patent basically kills the patent itself. Disclosure can be done under non-disclosure agreement. NDA would not allow an expert to copy and modify anything from idea mentioned on the agreement.
Speaking about start-up, there is say about “stealth-mode”, a hidden message, proceeding by brief introduction about what the product is, without telling the recipe behind it. Venture capitalists love this because stealth-mode means money.
Other key points about patent and start-up:
- Lov om offindelser (Inventions Acts)
- Patent Trolls (not available in Danish law)
Looks familiar with this symbol (c)? Yes! This is copyright, but what would the company get from registering copyright for their products?
From economic perspective, copyright gives monopoly of reproduction and the right to make the work available to public. It also gives moral rights to the creator (except for natural things of jobs such as journalist work, which writings goes credit for the newspaper). Thus, without copyright, people will be less induced to create a piece for commercial purpose.
Copyright usually applies for written and artsy outcome, such as books and paintings. In EU, copyright includes protecting computer program. It doesn’t, however, protect design for general production such as clothing as its purpose is not to limit others from being creative.
A piece of work is protected from the time of creation and no registration required, though registration can always be noted on notary public or agency. Copyright protection last for 70 years after the death of the creator.
When I was a teenager, I saw a poster of Beyonce’s Got Milk? poster and wondered what the TM writing on the upper right corner of “Got Milk?” meant. I guessed it must be the initial name of the poster’s creator, just like I had seen it before in the gallery…umm…or probably it was another domain extension, (dot).tm…ahh confusing.
TM stands for Trademark. It marks any signs which capable to distinguish the goods and service of one enterprise from those of others. It can be in a form of word or combination of words.
In Denmark, individuals or companies can submit trademark application to DKPTO which gives them effective 10 years protection within Denmark only. For those who want to register EU-scaled trademarks, application can be sent to OHIM, with the same constrain as the one in Denmark, but maybe renewed for further 10 years. Not enough and wants to be global? the international trademark regulation is available under Madrid agreement with protection in designated countries (wonder if China is part of this agreement, eh? :D).
Remember that copyright requires no registration. This also applies for trademark. That’s why some start-up decide not to register their copyright or trademark, and choose to gain market acknowledge instead.
LITTLE THINGS ABOUT NAME & LOGO
When naming a company and creating logo, make sure that you check on search engine, the CVR (company’s registered number), or ask service from DKPTO, as soon as possible before developing an industry name and reputation, You don’t want your company’s name and logo ended up being exist already by someone else, right?
So, do you want to protect your product creation through these series of registries or choose to let it be freely accessed? Well, it is all up to you and your vision. Beside, there is always a growing trend of open-source where it implements hybrid recognition and credit to both the company who provides the media and tools, and the community who contribute the work and product development. I don’t know what’s the name for this, that’s why it is still under question mark, heheheh…
This seminar is an opening door for me to understand the legal perspective of setting up company in Denmark. It doesn’t sound as simple as starting one in Indonesia, where one can start regular trading without having to register any. That’s why non-formal works, a.k,a tax free, outnumbers formal works in Indonesia.
Next blog, I will write about my mentor-ship class with Copenhagen Business Council, where I had learned types of registered company in Denmark, along with required asset.
- Patent, Trademark, & Copyright Law | eLocal (elocallawyers.com)
- Small businesses ‘to benefit from EU patent simplification’ (simplybusiness.co.uk)
- Online rights hot area for intellectual property lawyers (miamiherald.com)