In the present fast-paced and highly competitive business environment, Intellectual Property (IP) is of the utmost importance when it comes to safeguarding and protecting one’s assets and valuable creations from being copied. Without any second thoughts, it indeed takes a lot of effort, time, and hard work to come up with a unique idea and concretize it as a result of which individuals and business firms want to claim their piece of work as their sole property. Owning Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) allows a person or business firm to put restrictions on using or copying their creativity in any form and further penalize anyone involved in Intellectual Property Infringement or violation.
As a prime member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and signatory to the Universal Copyright Convention, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, and the Berne Convention, Mauritius aims at protecting the unique creations of the human mind. It even provides enhanced incentives to individuals for engaging in the innovation and creation of new ideas. By recognizing IP as an increasingly crucial economic asset, Mauritius keeps moving towards building a knowledge-based economy.
For the protection of IP Rights, Mauritius has an established IP framework, which consists of the following legislations:
- The Patent Industrial Designs and Trademark Act, 2002 (PIDTA)
- The Layout-Designs (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits Act, 2002 (Layout Designs Act)
- The Protection Against Unfair Practice Act, 2002 (PAUP)
- The Copyright Act, 2014 (Copyright Act)
- The Geographical Indications Act, 2002 (GI Act)
The various forms of IP, which can be well-protected under these Intellectual Property Protection Acts in Mauritius, are as follows:
A trademark refers to a sign, symbol, or logo that is capable of differentiating the goods or services of one company or individual from those of others. In Mauritius, a distinction has been made between a service mark and a trademark, wherein a service mark is a sign that distinguishes a service, and a trademark, on the other hand, distinguishes goods. Upon registration, Trademark Protection is available for ten years in Mauritius, which is further renewable every ten years.
A patent is an exclusive form of IP that safeguards the inventions and technical innovations. The Ministry of Industry and International Trade is the authority in Mauritius that is responsible for Patent Protection. Upon registration, patent protection is valid for 20 years from the date of filing the Patent Application. Additionally, it is essential to make a point of the fact that a certain amount of annual fee needs to be submitted for maintaining the validity of the patent. In case of failure, the relevant authority holds the right to consider that the patent is no longer in use and has been withdrawn.
A copyright protects a person’s piece of creative work, which can be a drawing, book, photograph, software, painting, sculpture, recording, musical composition, broadcast, film, and so on. Moreover, creative works and material available online are also subject to Copyright Protection. In Mauritius, the Copyright Act 1997 (which translates into the national legislation of the provision of the TRIPS Agreement that is, in turn, written upon the provisions of the Berne Convention) governs the Copyright Law.
Different types of creative works have different copyright protection duration in Mauritius, which are as follows:
- The work of an author – 50 years after his or her death
- Anonymous work – 50 years from the date of creation
- Audio-visual work – 50 years from the date of creation
- Photographic work – 25 years from the date of creation
- Commissioned work – 50 years from the date of publication
4. Industrial Design
An industrial design refers to another exclusive form of IP that protects the outward appearance of a product, which may be its pattern, configuration, shape, or any specific design applied to the product through an industrial process. For availing Industrial Design Protection in Mauritius, a person needs to file an Industrial Design Application with the controller of the Industrial Property Office. Upon successful approval, Industrial Design Protection is available for five years, which is further renewable every five years for a maximum of 30 years in totality.
5. Geographical Indication
Geographical Indication (GI) refers to a mark imprinted on products, which further implies a specific geographical origination or particular reputation or qualities of that origin. In Mauritius, Geographical Indication Protection can be obtained without going through the registration process. Mauritius also has a prior use exception scheme, in which case a person who has been using a GI for at least ten years in continuity since 1994 may use that GI.
6. Layout Design of Integrated Circuits
It refers to the 3D elements of an integrated circuit, some or all of its interconnections, or 3D arrangements, which are meant to be manufactured or prepared. The Layout-Designs (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits Act, 2002, provides the legal basis for the protection of semiconductor integrated circuits layout designs in Mauritius.