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Intellectual Property (IP)

What is Intellectual Property?

In general terms, intellectual property is any product of the human intellect that the law protects from unauthorized use by others. It may refer to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.

How is Intellectual Property Protection governed in Hong Kong?

As endowed by Articles 139 and 140 in the Basic Law, Hong Kong should develop appropriate policies as well as afford legal protection for intellectual property rights. In light of this, the Intellectual Property Department (IPD) was established on 2 July 1990 to facilitate the legislation and enforcement of policies as well as promotion and education among the community in regard to intellectual property protection.

What is a patent?

A patent protects your invention by giving you, the patent owner, a legal right to prevent others from manufacturing, using, selling or importing your patented invention.(Source IPD)

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a sign that distinguishes the goods and services of one trader from those of others. Typically a trademark can be words (including personal names), indications, designs, letters, characters, numerals, figurative elements, colours, sounds, smells, the shape of the goods or their packaging or any combination of these. A sign must be capable of being represented graphically in order for it to be registered as a trademark. (Source: IPD)

What is a registered design?

Designs can be registered for a wide range of products. Registered owners claim the right to prevent others from manufacturing, importing, using, selling or hiring the designs which predominantly cover the appearance of a product. The valid period of protection lasts from 5 to 25 years upon successful registration. Owners can renew the protection when the current registration expires. (Source: IPD)

What is a copyright?

Copyright is an automatic right given to the owner of an original work. It arises when a work is created spanning from books, software, music, plays, sculptures, recordings, films and so on. (Source: IPD)

What is a trade secret?

Trade secrets and undisclosed commercial information are confidential information in a commercial setting, such as formulas, methods, technologies, designs, product specifications, business plans and client lists, that have commercial value. (Source: IPD)

Why should you disclose your invention to ITDO?

  • ITDO can provide feedback on how to best protect your invention. While disclosing your invention to ITDO does not immediately guarantee protection of your invention, it can lead to protection if we file for patent or other form of IP protection.
  • Disclosing your invention to ITDO will help us fulfill PolyU’s responsibility to report to research sponsors such as the Research Grant Council (RGC) and the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC).
  • If ITDO is aware of your invention, we can liaise with the commercialization team and marketing team of  Institute for Entrepreneurship (IfE) to promote your invention.

How to determine inventorship in a patent application?

Patent law defines an inventor of a patentable invention as someone who conceives original, useful and non-obvious idea. An inventor must contribute to the conception of the invention. It should not be confused with the authorship of a scientific publication. The correct inventors must be named on a patent or the patent risks being invalidated.

When is the appropriate time for invention disclosure?

Please plan to submit your invention disclosure to ITDO at least 3 months prior to the expected public disclosure of your invention. Premature public disclosure may jeopardize the subsequent patent filing of your invention. In case of doubt, please contact us.

Please refer to Item 4 in the Regulation on the Management of Intellectual Property (RMIP) for more information.

When do you need a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)?

When it is necessary to disclose your ideas to an outside party,a non-disclosure agreement is one of the best ways to ensure your ideas and confidential information kept under wraps. Premature public disclosure may jeopardize the subsequent patent filing of your invention.

Please refer to Item 5 in the RMIP for more information.

Samples of NDA can be obtained from PolyU Technology and Consultancy Co. Ltd. (PTeC) via the links below:

Who pays for the patent application?

In general, upon approval, the University pays for the costs associated with the preparation, prosecution, and maintenance of the patent. Please refer to Item 6 in the RMIP for more information.

How are the revenues received from commercialization to be distributed?

The revenues are distributed as stipulated in Item 9 of the RMIP.

What should I do if I still have other questions regarding IP disclosure and application procedures for patent and other types of IP protection?

If you have any questions over your IP disclosure or application procedures, please refer to the RMIP and the Policy on Ownership of Intellectual Property (PIP). If you would like to seek further advice, please contact us.