Intellectual Property Offices

Jane Lambert
27 May 2010

Intellectual property rights are territorial not global. Unregistered rights such as copyright, rights in performances and the right to bring an action for passing off are restricted to the territories of the countries to which the statute applies or the writ of the court in which the claim is brought extends. Registered rights such as patents, trade marks and registered designs are granted for a single country or territory or, in the case of Community or Benelux trade marks and registered Community designs groups, for a group of territories.

The institutions at which intellectual property rights can be registered are known as intellectual property offices. Most are national, such as the Intellectual Property Office of the United Kingdom and the United States Patent and Trade Mark Office (“USPTO”). Others such as OHIM and CPVO (Community Plant Variety Office) grant rights that apply throughout the member states of the European Union. Yet others such as the European Patent Office grant patents for one or more of the member states of the European Patent Convention on behalf of the parties to that Convention.

The WIPO maintains a directory of national and regional intellectual property offices on its website.   Some of those offices register industrial property rights (patents, trade marks and industrial designs). Others like the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress register copyrights where the law allows.