How important is Intellectual Property in Robotics?


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It is worth emphasizing that IP protection – via patents, copyrights, designs, trade secrets, trademarks, etc. – is key to the field of interactive robotics. The lengthy and expensive process of designing, developing, producing and delivering interactive robotic products relies on IP protection to recoup up-front investments and to fend off competitors seeking to capitalize on the R&D investments of their rivals.

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How Intellectual Property applies to Robot-Assisted Creativity and innovation in the EU

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Patents

Patents on new inventions represent one of the main legal instruments used by robotic firms to protect their technologies. In Europe patents are granted by the non-EU European Patent Office (EPO) and by national patent offices. As a result, patents constitute an area of law that is not entirely within the jurisdiction of the EU

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Trade Secrets

Robotics firms may rely on trade secrets and the legal protection given to such information, to protect their investments in technology. Trade secrets are protected in most countries of the world, although the type and degree of protection varies. In the EU, Directive 2016/943 was approved in June 2016 with the aim of harmonizing the laws that protect undisclosed know-how and business information against unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure

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Copyright

Copyright is a common legal tool to protect software in Europe – and the EU has harmonised such protection since 1991. The EU Directive 2001/29 on Copyright in the Information Society, which provides that adequate legal protection must be given “against the circumvention of any effective technological measures, which the person concerned carries out in the knowledge, or with reasonable grounds to know, that he or she is pursuing that objective”

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Trademark

The commercial success of products such as nanny-robots, pet-robots, caretaker-robots and medical-robots also depends on a reliable brand which consumers know, trust, appreciate and remember. For this reason, robotics companies with a strong brand name and solid reputation are indeed investing in and registering trademarks, especially with the EU Intellectual Property Office

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Designs

Interactive robots are consumer-facing – and as such a robot’s physical appearance and its ‘look and feel’ plays a central role in influencing consumers’ choice. Robot designs that meet certain requirements, including novelty and individual character, can be registered with the EUIPO, such registrations protecting the ornamental features of the machines.

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Find out more about Intellectual Property in the EU in the INBOTS White paper

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