Mobile phones – a complex product with many intellectual property rights

A mobile phone consists of many different intellectual property rights such as trademark, design, copyright and usually several thousand patents. Here, we use the mobile phone as a detailed example to illustrate the purpose and use of the various intellectual property rights.

The mobile phone - A complex product 

The phones that most people use today are known as smartphones. These products are very complex and can be used for many other things than to simply make calls. They are also computers, cameras and virtually only technological development and the imagination and creativity of the developers impose any limits on what a phone can do these days. Although the product is very complicated, it still acts as an example of how different aspects of a smartphone can be covered by intellectual property rights and neighbouring legal areas such as marketing law and trade secrets.

A simplified picture 

Every one of the examples is a gross simplification. For example, the fact that there is a cross in the “patent box” for “the camera in the phone” simply means that patents may be relevant if the applicable conditions are met. There are many conditions, which are complicated in themselves. The aim of this simplified picture is to demonstrate that many details of a product can be protected, something which many people are not aware of. In the PRV School, you can learn more about the specific conditions which apply in order for an intellectual property right to arise and what it means for the holder and other actors. 

Intellectual property rights are also important for those who do not have them 

Intellectual property rights are not just important for actors who have novel ideas or who have created a winning concept or a novel type of product/service. While intellectual property rights can favour the right holder, it can be damaging to breach other parties’ intellectual property rights. Actors should therefore devote some of their energy to determining the rights of their competitors to ensure that the company does not infringe anyone else’s rights. Infringing intellectual property rights can be expensive, as a company may be forced to participate in lengthy, complicated and very expensive procedures instead of focussing on selling their own products/services.

Mobile phone

Patents

Trademarks

Designs

Copyright

Design of the phone    X X X
Name of the phone    X    
Name of company behind the phone    (X)    
Logotype on the phone    X X X
Font    X X X
Graphic profile    X X X

Technical solutions used in the phone (can concern many different aspects)

X      
Components in the phone  X      

Manufacturing methods for components/phone

X     (X)
The camera in the phone  X      

System for sending/receiving different types of information

X      

Transmitters/base stations, etc.

X      
New areas of use  X      
Business plans concerning the phone       (X)
Concept for selling the phone        

Computer software in the phone

(X)     X
Apps (X)     X
Games concept         
Document concerning strategies       X