PROTECTING YOUR IDEA

Bizz Africa 6:49 AM LEGAL SPECTRUM

Everyone has an idea. Ideas come to us while we eat, walk, drive, sit on a bus, chat or even dream (A friend tells me most of his ideas come to him while he’s on the toilet seat!). Whichever way you get ideas you must protect them, especially when that idea is original and uniquely different.

Almost every idea is potentially marketable and profitable, however if that idea remains in your thoughts and no step is taken to actualize them they remain just that – ideas. Mind you, someone may just be thinking the same thing! Thus, it is impossible to protect your idea when it remains in your thoughts, because should someone else produce something similar to what you thought of, it would be difficult for anyone to believe that you actually thought it first…or that it was your idea that person stole.
So how do you protect an idea? Do you walk straight to the Registrar – General’s Department and demand that your thoughts be written down and registered? No! That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it?
Our laws in Ghana do not protect ideas. To get copyright protection, your ideas must have been actualized into a definite medium of expression, like a literary or artistic work, computer software, audio – visual work or sound recording that can be perceived, reproduced or otherwise communicated. So it could be a story book, a song, a textile design, a movie, a software and etcetera. Once the idea is put into the form of a work, you are entitled protection under the law automatically, even if that work is not registered. Registration to gain copyright is not obligatory. However, you may register your work as a way of publishing your rights to others and also to serve as evidence of ownership and authentication of your intellectual property. Where your idea is in respect of a sign, symbol or logo that you want to use as the company’s trademark, that sign, symbol or logo must be registered in order to get protection for that trademark under the law.
Alternatively, where your idea is one that gives solution to a specific problem in the field of technology, i.e. an invention, you would require a patent. It may be a new technical device or machine which you created or probably a known device which you reinvented by adding something different. As long as the invention is new and can be used in any kind of industry, you are eligible for protection under the law once that invention has been registered and you have been given a patent for it.
Whichever form your idea takes, it is possible to protect it.
Ideas come easily, but getting protection for them requires extra effort. So take that extra step and get that brilliant idea protected.

Glossary:

Copyright: Right that protects creative works
Trademark: A sign or symbol that distinguishes goods and services of an entity (eg. a company) from that of another entity.
Patent: The title or certificate you receive after registering an invention.

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