Intellectual property refers to the creations of the mind. Your ideas and creativity are expressed in different ways through inventions, designs, writing, music, art, performances. When your ideas and creativity are exist within the mind of a person, it is an intangible property and is expressed through music, performances, artistic work. When your idea is being converted to a products that can be seen and touched, it becomes a touchable property. Intellectual Property is protected by different IP laws such as Patents, Trademark, Designs, Trademark, and Copyright.

Every business starts with an idea. Each of the millions of business that operate across the globe everyday started with an idea that took shape in someone’s mind and made its way to the market. This idea can be a product or services that becomes an Intellectual Property asset of the owner and when used for commercial purposes, the Intellectual property of the owner warrants the need for special legal protection. Legal protection varies depending very much on the nature of that idea.

In Vanuatu, the Vanuatu Intellectual Property office is mandated to administer seven Intellectual property laws which are Trademark Act No.1 of 2003, Patents Act No. 2 of 2003, Design Act No. 3 of 2000, Copyright And Related Rights Act No. 42 of 2000, Circuits Layout Act No.51 of 2000, Trade Secrets Act No.52 of 2000 and Geographical Indications (Wine) Act No. 53 of 2000.

Patents Act No. 2 of 2003 provide for the grant and registration of patents. A Patent is an exclusive right granted for an Invention, which is a product or a process that provides a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. A patent can be granted only if the product or process is totally new and not used yet around the world, it involve an inventive steps and capable of industrial application.

Trademark Act No. 1 of 2003 is another type of Intellectual property law that protects distinctive sign which identifies certain good or services.

Sign can be either letter, word, name, logo. It is placed on a product or services and it helps consumers to identify and purchase a product or service because of its nature and quality.

Designs Act No. 3 of 2000 protects a designs which consist of features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation that can applied to an article, and is capable of capturing the eye in the finished product. Designs are applied to a wide variety of products of industry and handicraft: from technical and medical instruments to watches, jewellery, and other luxury items; from housewares and electrical appliances to vehicles; from textile designs to leisure goods that we are using today in our daily lives.

Trade Secrets Act No.52 of 2000 is an Intellectual property law that provides rights on confidential information on commercial products. Information can be either a methods, plans, techniques, procedures, processes, formulas, programs, recipe that are owner or business which has commercial value. A person or business who is the owner of a trade secret has the right not to give out any information in regards to how or she engage in that business or produce that commercial product. In Vanuatu, there is no formal intellectual property process for protecting a trade secret. It’s an automatic right and general to qualify as a trade secret the information must be of commercially valuable because it is secret, be known only to a limited group of persons, and be subject to reasonable steps taken by the rightful holder of the information to keep it secret, including the use of confidentiality agreements for business partners and employees. Trade secrets can potentially last forever provided the information actually remains a secret. Once the secret is out, the business value is usually lost and the trade secret protection ends

Copyright And Related Rights Act No. 42 of 2000 is collection of rights automatically vested upon someone once he created something. The categories of work that is protected under Copyright are artistic work, musical work, collective work, literary work, dramatic work, and Audio-visual work.

Geographical Indications (GI) is an IP that identifies a good as originating in a specific geographical area and whose quality, reputation or characteristics are essentially attributable to that geographical origin. At the moment the

Office of the Vanuatu Intellectual Property office is currently working on a GI to protect some of our current products such as Kava ant other agricultural protects.

Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expression of Culture Act No. 21 of 2019 is an Act that provides for the right of protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expression of Culture as an Intellectual Property asset of the people of Vanuatu. Traditional knowledge held by elders in the communities is a very valuable asset. It is this knowledge our ancestors have possessed and transmitted from generation to generation and in which has sustained the livelihood of our communities over the ages. For instance, traditional knowledge of horticulture and maintenance of soil fertility as well as the knowledge of interpreting weather patterns to determine the productive festive sessions throughout the period of a custom calendar are some aspects that should be protected from unjust exploitation. Traditional methods of using herbs for curing diseases and sicknesses are a specialized knowledge, which only few people possess. Thus, in order to obtain access to use a Traditional Knowledge and Expression of Culture for commercial purposes a person have to seek a prior informed consent and must have the right from the holders of such Traditional Knowledge.

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