Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual Property (IP) refers to the expressed creation of the human mind. Examples include brands, inventions, designs, songs and other intellectual creations.

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What are Intellectual Property Rights?

The term Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) refers to a bundle of exclusive rights. IPRs are granted by the state to creators for defined categories of creations that satisfy a threshold level of newness. The rights are granted with exceptions and limitations.

There are several types or forms of IPRs. They are Copyright and Related Rights, Patents, Utility Certificates, Industrial Designs, Trade Marks and Service Marks, Geographical Indications, Layout Designs (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits, New Plant Varieties and Trade Secrets.

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What is a Patent?

A Patent is a bundle of exclusive rights. It is granted by the state for new inventions which are products or processes that either provide a new way of doing something, or offer a new technical solution to a problem. It provides protection for the invention, preventing others from manufacturing, using and trading it. The owner is required to disclose technical information to the public sufficient for persons with average skill in the art to manufacture and use the technology.

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What is a Trade Mark?

A trade mark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one trader from those of other traders.

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What is a Geographical Indication?

A geographical indication (GI) is any sign or symbol that identifies goods as emanating from any specific region or location of a country that gives the goods its known quality, reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that region or locality.

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What constitutes an Industrial Design?

Any composition of lines or colours, any three-dimensional form or any material whether or not associated with lines or colours, is deemed to be an industrial design where such composition, form or material gives a special appearance to a product of industry or handicraft.

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What is considered Layout Designs (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits?

This is synonymous with “topography” and means the three-dimensional disposition, however expressed, of the elements, at least one of which is an active element, and of some or all of the inter-connections of an integrated circuit, or such a three-dimensional disposition prepared for an integrated circuit intended for manufacture.

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What are New Plant Varieties?

An exclusive property right which protects the achievement of breeders of new plant varieties, on the basis of a set of uniform and clearly defined principles.

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What is Copyright and Related Rights?

A property right which subsists in literary and artistic works that are original intellectual creations in the literary and artistic domain.

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What is Unfair Competition?

Any act or practice, in the course of industrial or commercial activities, that is contrary to honest practices as outlined in the Protection Against Unfair Competition Act, 1996, constitutes an act of unfair competition.

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What is Trade Secret?

A Trade Secret is any information which:-

  • Has been kept secret;
  • Has commercial value; and
  • Retains its commercial value as a result of the efforts to keep the information secret.

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All rights reserved.

Criminal penalties for Intellectual Property Rights Infringement


Maximum Penalty (TT Dollars)

Copyright and Related Rights incl. databases

$250,000.00 or ten years imprisonment (summary conviction)

Topography of Integrated Circuits

$10,000.00 or 5 years imprisonment (summary conviction)

Trade Mark (incl. company names represented in a special or particular manner)

$10,000.00 or 6 months imprisonment (summary conviction); $40,000.00 or 10 years imprisonment (indictment)

Industrial Design

$10,000.00 or ten years imprisonment (summary conviction)

Patent and Utility Model

$10,000.00 (summary conviction).

Falsification of patent register: $20,000.00 (summary conviction) or $40,000.00 or ten years imprisonment (indictment)

Geographical Indications

$8,000.00 or three years imprisonment (summary conviction)

Plant Variety

$10,000.00 (summary conviction)

Unauthorised claim of patent rights

$10,000.00 (summary conviction)

Unauthorised claim that a patent has been applied for

$10,000.00 (summary conviction)


The Copyright Infringement Ship

Piracy Ship

Click here to download image.



Piracy occurs when any of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights are violated.

Note 14 of the TRIPS Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) provides the following interpretation:

(a) “counterfeit trademark goods” shall mean any goods, including packaging, bearing without authorization a trademark which is identical to the trademark validly registered in respect of such goods, or which cannot be distinguished in its essential aspects from such a trademark, and which thereby infringes the rights of the owner of the trademark in question under the law of the country of importation;

(b) “pirated copyright goods” shall mean any goods which are copies made without the consent of the right holder or person duly authorized by the right holder in the country of production and which are made directly or indirectly from an article where the making of that copy would have constituted an infringement of a copyright or a related right under the law of the country of importation.

The maximum penalty for copyright infringement is $250,000 or ten years imprisonment. The above pirate ship illustrates some common examples of piracy.