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University of Malta Department of Biology. BIO3040 Biotechnology I.


Intellectual Property
Intellectual Property
Intellectual property refers to any creation of the mind. These include: inventions, designs applied in commerce, literary and artistic works, names, and symbols. Intellectual property is divided into two main categories: industrial property, which includes inventions (industrial property, geographic indications of sources, patents, and trademarks), and copyrights, encompassing literary (prose, poems, and plays) and artistic works (paintings, photography, and sculpture), musical masterpiece, and architectural designs. Rights related to copyright also include: those of performing artists during performances, producers in phonograms during recordings, and those of broadcasters during their radio or television programs.

Industrial property
(a) Trademark

A trademark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by and individual, business organization, or other legal entity which indicates that the product or service to the consumer, has originated from a unique entity. A trademark, also serves to distinguish a product or service offered by one entity, from those of another. Additionally, it has to be registered and consequently, it cannot be copied.


Industrial design

In general terms, an industrial design, refers to the ornamental (aesthetic) aspect of a useful product. Such aspect may depend on the shape, pattern, or colour of the product. The design must have a visual appeal and perform efficiently its intended function. Moreover, the product must be reproduced by industrial means. This is the essential purpose of the design.


Geographical indication

A geographical indication, is a sign on a good which provides information on the specific geographical location and quality, or reputation of the country from which the good has originated. Typically, agricultural products have signs which indicate the qualities derived from the place of production and specific local factors which influence the quality, such as climate and soil type.



A patent is an official document, issued upon application, by a governmental office or regional office acting for several countries, which describes an invention and creates a legal situation in which the patented invention can be exploited (i.e. manufactured, sold, used, exported, and imported) with the authorization of the patent holder. A patent is only valid for a fixed amount of time. For example, a patent for a pharmaceutical formulation remains valid for 15 years. 1

University of Malta Department of Biology. BIO3040 Biotechnology I. [NOTE: An invention is a solution to a particular problem in the field of technology]. Why patent an invention?


To legally protect the inventor from imitations, consequently providing an incentive for inventive activity. To stimulate the dissemination of technical information so that it can be utilized for further inventive activity, and thus, increase the system-wide rate of invention.

The inventor has the right to take legal action against any person, exploiting the patented invention without his/her consent. This is the patent owners most important right, since, it enables him/her to obtain the material benefits to which he is entitled for the intellectual effort and work, and compensation for the expenses which the research and experimentation leading to the invention have entailed. [NOTE: The disclosure of the invention, so that others may gain the benefit pertaining to the invention, is an important consideration in any patent granting procedure]. For an invention to be eligible for patent protection, it must meet several criteria. Firstly, the invention must consist of a patentable subject matter. Secondly, it has to be novel and industrially applicable (useful). Thirdly, it must exhibit sufficient inventive steps (i.e. non-obvious), and finally, the description of the invention in the patent, must meet certain standards. Drafting a patent application A patent application has three requirements, these being: Requirement 1: The application should only be related to one invention Unity of invention. Requirement 2: The description should disclose the invention in a manner sufficiently clear, for the invention to be evaluated, and to be carried out by a person having an ordinary skill in the art. Requirement 3: The patent must contain claims which outline the scope of the protection. The claims have to be clear, concise, and fully supported by the description.

The patent office Patent applications are usually drafted by professionals, patent attorneys and agents. The industrial property office, checks that the requisite legal formalities have been complied with and, prepares the application for publication. The serial number is issued, and a number of copies are made. These are screened thoroughly abroad, as to, determine whether the invention is patentable. The decision may be supplemented by an opposite procedure. Patent licensing Patent licensing, is a waiver by the licensor, which excludes the licensee from exploiting unjustly the invention, under the patent rights. [NOTE: The licensor wants to recover the costs associated with the patent application, and reap the rewards of the invention. Similarly, the licensee wants to be sure that the costs associated with the commercialization effort are regained].