Intellectual property rights are various types of legally defined rights that represent intellectual creations which allow the owners of those creations to economically exploit it in conditions in which competition is excluded. The main division of intellectual property rights is the division into copyright and related rights on the one hand, and industrial property rights on the other.

The emergence of intellectual property rights was preceded by the dilemma of whether to establish subjective rights and allow ideas to be appropriated by someone or whether it is necessary for the development of culture that all intangible assets remain public and owned by the whole community.

Throughout history, all the legislation in the world have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to protect these works and create motivation to create and invest in intellectual property, and thus these works have become an economic good that has its owner. Also, at the same time restrictions related to these rights, as the guarantors of exchange of ideas and cultural development, developed parallel with the intellectual property rights.

What is interesting is the fact that intellectual property rights are not a creation of the modern age, even in ancient Greece there was an awareness of the exceptional importance of works of authorship, although their protection still did not have a legal framework, especially not the legal framework we know today. In the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome, we even have examples of one-year protections that were provided to innovative culinary recipes or examples of punishing participants in creative writing competitions who used works created by other people. [1]

The importance of intellectual property, which was recognized hundreds of years before the new era, today is certainly more important than ever, both for individuals and for companies for which it is the core of economic development, business growth and competitiveness, as well as the driving force of innovation. Regarding to that, it is necessary to prevent abusement and to protect intellectual property.



Intellectual property rights



Copyright and related rights

Copyright and related rights are a group of rights and authorizations that protect the author, in terms of his connection with his work of authorship, which usually involves a work in the field of literature, art or science.

Unlike other intellectual property rights, the creation of the work of authorship itself is not conditioned by initiating any procedure before the competent authorities of the Republic of Serbia (eg. registration of the work), and also the introduction of any formalities concerning the creation of the work of authorship is prohibited by international law.

For the work to be considered the work of authorship the volume, quality or purpose of the work is not important, but it is necessary for the work to be:

  • Human creation;
  • Shaped into a certain form (to the extent that makes the work suitable to be communicated to other persons);
  • Original (to wear author’s individual touch).[2]


The main division regarding copyright refers to the division of works into original works, works of modification and collections, but all groups of works must meet the general conditions listed above.

The authors have series of authorizations through their author’s moral and pecuniary rights, with certain restrictions, therewith that the memory of the author as the creator of the work of authorship must be respected permanently.

When it comes to rights related to copyright, the subjects of these rights are persons engaged in certain economic activities, not intellectual creation, and these persons (with the exception of performers) are guaranteed only authorizations related to the economic exploitation of the work.

This group includes the rights of performer, producer of phonographs, videographs, shows, databases, as well as the rights of the first publisher of a free work and publisher of printed editions to special remuneration.



Industrial property rights


  • Patent

Patent protection is provided to an invention which represents a solution to a particular technical problem. Inventions are actually innovative solutions that serve to meet a need that already exists in society (saving manpower and energy, treating certain diseases, etc.).

Patent protection ensures that holder of that protection exclusively enjoys economic benefits of  his invention, i.e. he has a exclusive right to manufacture products based on it, as well as to place the mentioned products on the market. However, as the entire social community has an interest in developing itself or satisfying its needs by using innovative solutions, this right of inventors is limited in terms of time (in domestic legislation for a period of 20 years and 10 years for a small patent), as well ass in terms of territory (in the country whose authority has recognized a particular invention).

Republic of Serbia’s legislation presents a number of substantive and formal conditions which have to be met for a particular invention to be recognized. But in case of the existence of following conditions, a particular invention can be protected:

  • New (not covered by the existing state of the art or contained in previously filed patent applications);
  • Inventive (must contain a certain inventive step, i.e. it is not a simple variation or adaptation of existing technical solutions, which would be obvious to any expert in the relevant field);
  • Susceptible of industrial application (even just potentially, although the eternal dilemma is whether even bizarre inventions, such as “face mask which stops excessive food intake”, meet this condition). [3]


Finally, as already mentioned in the text, the Republic of Serbia recognizes the protection of an invention by a patent in the case of the invention relating to products, processes or their use, as well as in the case of small patent when the subject of protection is a solution relating to product construction or arrangement of product’s components.

Bearing in mind that the Republic of Serbia has signed the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the inventors, who have an interest to protect their inventions against competition outside of the territory of the Republic of Serbia, are enabled to do that by filing a single international patent application whose acceptance leads to the recognition of the patent protection in every state that has signed the PCT agreement.


  • Trademark

A trademark is a right that protects a mark which is used on the market to distinguish the goods/services of one person from the goods/services of another person.

In comparative law, a trademark is acquired by using the sign itself, or, as in the Republic of Serbia, by registering a trademark that meets the conditions determined by law. Trademark registration shall be done by initiating proceedings before the Intellectual Property Office, and various types of signs can be subject of this protection.

The use of signs has multiple purposes in better positioning of goods or services on the market, and if it has gained enough popularity, the trademark can replace even the best designed advertising campaign on the market. A trademark usually refers to a certain type of product, while the sign that has acquired the highest possible degree of recognition does not have to meet this condition, yet that sign is a “famous trademark” that no one can protect regardless of the type of goods which they want to mark it with.

If the sign meets the conditions determined by law and if its use does not infringe the already existing right of another person, the sign will become protected in the territory of the state that has recognized such a sign.

Having in mind that in the Republic of Serbia trademark protection does not have to be preceded by the use of the sign itself in the market, the market is protected from the so-called defensive trademarks by termination of the protection of the trademark that has not been in use for a period of 5 years, and that presents a specific reason for termination of the right.


  • Indication of geographical origin protection

Throughout history, certain geographical areas have become a symbol of quality for a certain type of goods that originate from that geographical areas.

Consumers see certain indication of geographical origin as the safest recommendation and guarantee of quality, so that explains a clear interest of market participants in this kind of indications and the economic benefits they bring. We are all familiar with the fact that watch gives completely different impression when it is Swiss, whiskey when it is Scottish etc. [4] Certainly, it is clear why market participants have the interest to enrich their products with an indication of geographical origin.

The importance of these signs is also recognized by the Republic of Serbia’s legal system, so the signs, which meet conditions determined by law, shall be protected before the Intellectual Property Office, or possibly before the Ministry of Agriculture when it comes to indications of geographical origin regarding alcoholic beverages. Products supplied with indication of geographical origin are subject to constant quality control, in order not to lose significance that protected indication of geographical origin have which would make this intellectual property right meaningless.


  • Integrated circuit topography protection

Topography represents the spatial arrangement of the elements of an integrated circuit on a single chip, and an integrated circuit is an electronic circuit whose main characteristic is its compactness or dense packaging of its components on a small piece of semiconductor.[5]

The protection of integrated circuit topography is one of the “youngest” intellectual property rights, created in response to great advances in technology, and as a reward for the creativity and chip design knowledge shown by the creators of these works.

The protection of this right implies its recognition in administrative procedure before the Intellectual Property Office, and is limited to a period of 10 years.


  • Design protection

With the realization of the economic value that the aesthetic form of goods can have, there was a need to protect the appearance of the product itself, by protecting its design. Having in mind that design is often the reason why the consumer will choose a certain product, it has an exceptional economic significance on the market. Therefore, in the Republic of Serbia, the procedure for design protection takes place before the Intellectual Property Office, and it gives the holder a time-limited, exclusive and absolute right to allow or prohibit another to use a design that meets the conditions determined by law. [6]


  • Plant variety protection

The procedure for plant variety protection, in the Republic of Serbia, shall be conducted before the Ministry of Agriculture and the exact right is called “the right of plant variety breeder”. Bearing in mind that the creation of new plant varieties requires intellectual effort and significant financial investments, as well as the fact that plant varieties are very susceptible to economic exploitation by third parties, it is necessary to protect this type of intellectual property.

In the Republic of Serbia, the plant variety that is new, distinctive, stable and homogeneous shall be protected.



The so-called “soft”intellectual property


Trade secret

A trade secret is any knowledge, business strategy, customer list, experience or confidential information, whose possession gives its holder an advantage over its competition in the market, and at the same time does not belong to any of the previously named and protected categories of intellectual property. Trade secret does not belong to intellectual property rights, so its disclosure can lead to disciplinary, civil and criminal responsibility or can be marked as a act of unfair competition, but it can not be recognized as the violation of intellectual property rights in the Republic of Serbia.

Bearing in mind that a trade secret is non-material asset, it is traditionally considered an intellectual property right, although a trade secret is not a legal but a factual relationship between a person who knows something on the one hand, and others who do not have that information, on the other.

In the case of a trade secret, there is no subjective right over the secret that is protected by law, yet they are protected by company’s contracts with its employees or third parties to whom the trade secret is made available. In accordance with that, when  transferring this information, it is necessary to define trade secret as much as in details and precisely as possible, primarily for preventing abuses purposes, and then to ensure that dishonest disclosure would lead to responsibility for breach of a contractual obligation, as well as to adequate damage compensation for such act.

A trade secret has several basic characteristics:

  1. It represents a non-material asset – information (the essence of a trade secret transaction is the sole knowledge of that information, and not any technical documentation for its use);
  2. It can be used by any person who has it, which distinguishes it from a talent or skill;
  3. It gives its holder a more favorable position on the market, comparing to the competition;
  4. Secrecy (unavailability) – theoretically, this information can only be difficult to access or inaccessible to the extent that it is worth more to a certain person to pay a certain amount of money for obtaining it, than to try to get it himself. [7]


What appears to be a frequent dilemma in practice is the issue of protection of inventions, bearing in mind that patent protection exists, but is limited by law, while with trade secret this is not the case. As we have already mentioned, the Republic of Serbia’s legislation does not recognize a trade secret as the right of its holder, so in case of disclosing the trade secret all forms of control over its use will be lost. On the other hand, after a certain period (20 years), a patent, as well as other intellectual property, becomes publicly available to the competition, while a trade secret, if not disclosed, lasts forever. In practice, companies usually use the combination of patent protection and trade secret, so the inventions are being patented, and the accompanying technical knowledge that enables safe and economical use of the invention is being protected as a trade secret.



Internet domain names

Internet domain names are another non-material asset that is wrongly counted as a intellectual property right. Similar to trade secret, internet domain names have an exceptional economic significance, and their unscrupulous registration and use in practice can violate the trademark or legitimate interest of another person.

By registering internet domain name, the registrant acquires the exclusive right to use that internet domain name for a certain period of time, with obligation to pay appropriate fee.

The importance of internet domain name registration is shown by the increasing occurrence of resales of these names, i.e. by the appearance of the “cyber squatters” or persons who systematically register internet domain names which are identical (or similar) to other people’s trademarks, in order to offer them those internet domain names for substantial monetary compensation.[8]

In the Republic of Serbia, internet domain names shall be protected in two ways:

  1. In court – the condition for accessing this type of protection is that various activities which represent a violation of other people’s trademarks are performed through website itself (the act of registering a domain name alone, is not sufficient).
  2. Alternatively before the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia’s Committee for the Resolution of Disputes Relating to the Registration of National Internet Domains, which may order the transfer of registration due to the sole act of registration of the internet domain name if the conditions determined by law are met (similarity with the trademark, lack of legitimate interest and unscrupulousness by the registrant).


If the trademark infringement is not committed through the national internet domain name, there is a possibility of conducting the procedure before the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).



Conclusion and our service

Intellectual property is an abstract and certainly less tangible concept in relation to other forms of property, but economically it is very similar with all other known forms of property. While it is completely clear to all of us that the house needs to be secured with a key and other security system, as well as that we will expel anyone who tries to enter it without authorization, the importance of protecting non-material assets can often be understood too late.

From all the above, it is completely clear that intellectual property should be protected like any other form of property, both for preventive and with timely responses to its violation by third parties or possibly by employees. In modern times, it is a mechanism for the financial development of business, and its unauthorized use by competitors can create advantage for them in the market and cause irreparable damage instead of benefits to its holder.



Bearing in mind everything that has been said, our office strives to adjust its approach to client’s legal and commercial needs.

The services we provide include the development of a unique strategy for the protection of these intellectual property rights for each client, and primarily related to:

  • Initiation of procedures for the protection of these rights (initiation of registration procedures before the competent administrative bodies, both domestic and international);
  • Providing legal advice regarding the protection of intellectual property rights;
  • Contract drawing aimed at adequate and comprehensive protection of these rights;
  • Initiating and conducting disputes related to infringement of intellectual property rights.




[1] Stanford University, Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

[2] University of Belgrade, Faculty of Law, “Intellectual Property Law”, authors: Slobodan M. Marković and Dušan V. Popović, Belgrade 2017

[3] https://www.wipo.int/patents/en/2018_patent_picks.html

[4] University of Belgrade, Faculty of Law, “Intellectual Property Law”, authors: Slobodan M. Marković and Dušan V. Popović, Belgrade 2017

[5] University of Belgrade, Faculty of Law, “Intellectual Property Law”, authors: Slobodan M. Marković and Dušan V. Popović, Belgrade 2017

[6] University of Belgrade, Faculty of Law, “Intellectual Property Law”, authors: Slobodan M. Marković and Dušan V. Popović, Belgrade 2017

[7] University of Belgrade, Faculty of Law, “Intellectual Property Law”, authors: Slobodan M. Marković and Dušan V. Popović, Belgrade 2017

[8] University of Belgrade, Faculty of Law, „Intellectual Property and the Internet“, Dušan V. Popović, 2017