What is Intellectual Property and what are the different forms of Intellectual Property

What is Intellectual Property and what are the different forms of Intellectual Property

What does the term “intellectual property” mean? In layman’s terms, intellectual property is something creative and new that someone thinks about and then writes down. The paper itself is not what has value. We are protecting the idea. Therefore, any creation from the human mind that is marketable can be said to be intellectual property.

Intellectual property (IP) fosters innovation. Innovation is stimulated by the restricted right to prevent others from copying patented inventions, copyrighted original works of literature, and trademarked businesses and

What are the benefits of intellectual property? The benefits of having intellectual property protection include:

  1. It increases the market value of a business 
  2. It turns ideas into profit-making assets. For example, an IP owner could license his IP for profit-making
  3. It could be used as collateral for financing
  4. It markets a company’s products and services
  5. It increases export opportunities
  6. It gives the IP owner exclusivity

Types of intellectual property includes patents, copyrights, trademarks, and registered designs and are all types of legal mechanisms used to safeguard original concepts, innovations, and other intangible property.

Copyright ©

What is copyright and copyright law?
Copyright is a type of IP that is used to protect original works from duplication or unauthorized use.

What rights does the Author acquire? The Author has the exclusive right to publish, grant licenses, sell, and reproduce any of their own original
Types of works that can be copyrighted include books, original writings, visual arts, songs, photographs, computer software, cinematographic films, artwork, and other creations. The advantage is that an owner of
an original work doesn’t have to register/apply for copyright protection in order to get these rights because copyright subsists automatically, with the exception of cinematographic films.
Can you protect your copyright internationally?
The answer is No. Regardless of the author’s domicile or the place of the work’s original publication, the copyright protection that the work receives is governed by the national laws of the country in which the author seeks protection. 

In South Africa, copyright is governed by the Copyrights Act 98 of 1978. Piracy and copyright infringement falls under the category of copyright crime. Copyright can expire after a set period of time, unlike trademarks that can exist perpetually, provided it is continuously used and renewed every 10 years.

Trademark ®™

What is a trademark?
A trademark is a unique mark or name that sets one’s products or services apart from those of their

Why get a Trademark? Trademarks are designed to reduce consumer confusion to allow customers to know the owner of a specific logo when they see it. An example of a trademark includes NIKE (word mark), (logo), or JUST DO IT (slogan). Word marks, logos, color marks, trade names, patterns, and designs are all subject to trademark protection. The broadest level of protection is offered by registration of a mark in word format. The visual elements of the mark will be protected by the mark in the logo format. Filing a logo in black and white provides the broadest protection and enables one to prevent third parties from using it in connection to any color.

What rights do the trademark owners acquire? Registering the trademark ensures that other companies will not have a confusingly similar trademark and gives your company exclusive rights to operate and market under the said trademark as well as to stop others from using it without permission. Furthermore, anyone who infringes on a registered trademark may be subject to legal action. To prevent the importation of counterfeit goods, it is advisable to register your brand with Customs upon being granted a registered trademark. The symbol “®” can be used after a trademark to show that a trademark is registered and this enhances the credibility of the business.

What are the advantages of a registered trademark?
Following the completion of all procedures and issuance of the registration certificate, the state grants a trademark applicant certain recognitions and advantages.
Can you protect your trademark internationally? The answer is No. Trademarks are territorial in nature. It is, therefore, necessary to register a trademark in
every country where it is used and where protection is sought. Counterfeiting and trademark infringement are both regarded as intellectual property offenses or crimes.


What is a registered design?

A registered design protects the shape, configuration, pattern, or ornamentation of a product. South
African designs law recognizes two types of registrable designs namely aesthetic and functional designs. Functional designs are designs that fulfill the purpose for which it is intended, while aesthetic designs are designs that have appealing features and are judged only by the eye.


What is a patent?
It is a certificate that the government issues to an inventor for a product that is novel, inventive, and has utility. In the end, the inventor educates the public on how to create and utilize their creation, and in return, the government grants the holder or creator a monopoly for a set period of time and forbids others from making, using, exercising, disposing of, offering to dispose or importing the innovation. Innovation must be novel, inventive, and practical in order to be patentable in South Africa.

What rights does the patent owner acquire? A patent provides the proprietor of an invention, new product, or technique with legal protection. It grants the owner the authority to prohibit others from using their invention in a similar way or from selling it. 

Additionally, holding a patent enables the patentee to monopolize the goods or services to the benefit of the inventor/patentee. Here are a few instances: 

An illustration of a utility patent is the iPhone. Numerous utility patents cover the operation of the iPhone. Its appearance is protected by design patents as well. What are the advantages? The inventor who has a patent is granted a monopoly over importation and production, for 20 years.


As can be seen, safeguarding your intellectual property is essential. Our goal is to promote awareness. If you would like to schedule a consultation to go through your IP needs, please get in touch with NMA IP Attorneys.

Natasha Mohunlal _ Managing Director at Natasha Mohunlal & Associates Intellectual Property Attorneys

This article was written by Natasha Mohunlal, the founder and Managing Director of Natasha Mohunlal & Associates. The specialist in Intellectual Property. Contact them by email: info@nma-ip.com or telephone +27 82 616 0944  or 012 003 3238