A close look on legal fintech related topics (first part)

By Axel Beelen (IP News)

Putting in place a startup needs of course an idea, an innovative and digital project. Be it a financial one or not. After you will certainly want to create your website to introduce your idea to the world. If your idea is a product, it will be via an online sales-flow. At that moment you will certainly ask yourself : how can I do it ? and linked to that question: what can I legally do? That’s where the man with a incomprehensible language intervenes: the lawyer. We would like to sum it up for you the legal basics in order to put you in a better position. In this first introduction to the startup legal related topic, we would like to focus on intellectual and industrial rights.

You will see, it’s not so difficult at the end. Is it?

Your idea must be an original one

It seems logical but you can’t develop an idea if this idea is a copy of another’s idea. But let’s be here more specific. The copyright law only protects the concretisation of an idea. Ideas are not subject to protection. Trademark law protects other’s logo and commercial name if these logo’s have been registered in Belgium or at the European level. Don’t forget to also look after patent databases to see if your potential process you have in mind is not already subject to an existing patent. Note that you can generally apply for a trademark directly online.

If you are at the concretisation of your idea = your work is original, it will de facto be protected by copyright regulation. In Europe, you don’t have to register your idea to a central state administration in order to let begin the protection. It was the case in the USA before. But even there this obligation doesn’t exist anymore. Copyright protection lasts for 70 years after the die of its author. Being the right-holder of the concretisation of your idea you will be able to prohibit any reproduction and communication to the public of your project. We advice you to deposit your work just to have proves of your work. You can use the e-deposit form of the Belgian administration (i-DEPOT tool).

Registering to prohibit or licence

Registering your trademark gives you the exclusive right to use the trademark for certain goods/services for a(n) (extendable) period of 10 years. In order to maintain your exclusive right, you must use your trademark, keep it up-to-date and renew your registration in good time. On the contrary, patent protection only lasts for 20 years.


About the author

Axel Beelen is a not-so-young-but-still-enthusiastic digital lawyer. He passionately manages the ipnews.be electronic platform. The e-platform (unique in the French part of the country) explains in ordinary words the complex IP world to its large audience. The e-platform consists of a well-known website (www.ipnews.be), a Twitter account (@ipnewsbe) and a Facebook page.