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Sole rights to your idea

There are several ways to protect your ideas so that no one else is able to exploit them.

Choose the right protection

Trademarks, designs, patents, copyright, domain names, company names and trade secrets are examples of valuable assets of a non-physical nature, known as intangible assets. Some of these assets can be registered and are then referred to as intellectual property rights (IPR), while for example copyright automatically applies when a new work is created.

You can apply for several types of exclusive rights for the same idea, for example you may register a company name, a domain name and a trademark for the same idea. A telephone is a product which can be protected in several ways. It contains many technical elements that can be protected with patents, the design and outward appearance of the telephone can be protected by design registration, and the name and logo associated with the telephone can be registered as a trademark.

A business idea, concept or method may in principle not be registered as either a patent, trademark or design, but marketing law may give some protection against the copying of such concepts and where others try to take advantage of your efforts.

Logos and names

You can apply for sole rights to your logo, your company name or a product by applying for trademark registration. A trademark may consist of words, names, logos, characters, letters, numbers, sounds, or combinations of these.

You should also consider whether you should register your domain name or company name, ensuring yourself full freedom to use that name and preventing others from using it.

Designs

You may apply for sole rights for the appearance and shape of a product by applying for design registration. This can help you stop others from copying your design and making use of your design. A design must be new. This means that the visual appearance or shape of your product must differ significantly from previously known designs. However before you apply in Norway, you may test out your design on the market for up to 12 months before filing an application. Your design is not protected in this period.

Inventions

You may apply for sole rights to an invention by applying for a patent. A patent protects a practical solution to a technical problem. You can not be granted a patent for an idea without describing or showing how the solution works in practice. Your invention must be new and not have been made known to others before you file your patent application.

Domain names

A domain name is an internet address. A domain name is usually linked to internet services such as webpages or an e-mail address. Norid is responsible for managing .no-domains. However they do not accept direct applications. If you want to register a domain name, you must contact a domain name provider.

Company names

Company names are registered at the Brønnøysund Register Centre. It is often a good idea to register your company name, domain name at the same time as you apply for trademark registration.

Business concepts and ideas

A business idea, concept or method may in principle not be registered as either a patent, trademark or design. This means you can not get protection for something that is only an idea. However, it may be possible to protect some parts of a concept or a method.

Copyright

The term copyright refers to the intellectual ownership of a literary and artistic work, for example a piece of music, a book, a painting, hand made artefacts, or a film. You obtain copyright to an intellectual work the moment you create it.

Applying in other countries

If you wish to apply for sole rights to your idea in other countries, it is important to consider this at an early point, particularly for inventions. The application process can be complex and it will often pay to get the help of a professional advisor.

Secrecy

You may also choose to protect your invention or process by keeping them secret. If you choose this strategy it is important to have good agreements with any partners who need to insight into the business, so you avoid unwanted copying or trade secrets going astray.

Getting help

You can contact us at the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO) if you have questions concerning what type of protection is right for you or your company. Ring our Customer Service Centre at +47 22 38 73 33 and talk to an adviser or a case officer. You are also welcome to visit us at our premises in Oslo.

Courses and seminars

We hold a wide variety of courses and seminars throughout the year. The majority of our courses are held in Norwegian, although we do offer some specialist courses in English.

Other organisations and institutions

Other public institutions and organisations that can help you with your business strategy or offer you financial aid, are Innovation Norway, Research Council of Norway, Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture, SIVA's network of clusters, incubators etc.

Professional advisers

A professional patent agency or patent attorney can help you prepare and formulate your patent application and follow up important deadlines and payments, such as annual fees. Patent agencies are experts on all types of intellectual property rights, including trademarks, designs and IPR strategies.

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