Forms of intellectual and industrial property

Authors' rights

A work is protected by authors' rights due to the simple fact of its creation. Its registration or any other formalities are not necessary. However, some national authors' rights offices, and some laws, envisage the registration of works. These systems allow the problems posed to be tackled, including disputes relating to ownership or creation, and sales or assignments and transfers of rights as they provide proof and publicity to the rights registered there.

In the case of Catalonia, the office responsible for this is the Intellectual Property Register of Catalonia. Although the Register is for the whole of Spain, it has a decentralized structured through regional registers.



Computer programs are intangible assets that require legal protection, as occurs in the case of literary, artistic and scientific works. The set of instructions that constitute each program is the result of the human mind, for which reason it is necessary to protect both the programs and their creators effectively.

The protection of computer programs by authors' rights has come about due to the realization that the protection provided by patents is insufficient. The rights on computer programs, their successive versions and derivative programs may be registered in the Intellectual Property Register.

The characteristic features of the current protection are as follows:

  • Registration is not mandatory.

  • It is presumed that whoever appears in the Register as rights holder of the program is the real rights holder, so the onus is on anyone disputing this point to prove otherwise. Registration is not taken into account to determine the start of the program protection period.

  • The Register is public.

Although it is true to say that registration with the Intellectual Property Register is very often complicated and not of any great use in terms of source code, there are other alternatives for protecting this.


Trademark or logo

A trademark is a distinctive sign that indicates that certain goods or services have been produced or provided by a specific person or company. Article 4 of Law 17/2001, of 7 December 2001, on trademarks, defines it as "any sign of graphic representation that serves to distinguish one company's products or services from those of another".

Protection of the trademark is obtained through registering it, and in some countries also through its use.

Although trademarks can be protected by their use, it is advisable to register them by submitting the relevant application to the appropriate office according to whether the registration is national, EU or international. Registration of a trademark will provide greater protection, especially in cases where there is a dispute with an identical trademark or one that is so similar that it may cause confusion.

Therefore, although it is not compulsory to register the trademark, it is advisable, since this grants exclusive rights that prohibit the unauthorized use of the trademark.



A patent is a series of exclusive rights that guarantee the right to operate as exclusive the invention made for a limited amount of time, which is twenty years in the case of Spain.

In Spain, it is regulated by Law 11/1986, of 20 March 1986, on patents.

For an invention to be covered by a patent, it has to fulfil three requirements:

  1. Novel: an invention is considered as new when it is not included in the state of the art, ie when it has not been published prior to the date of submission of the application.

  2. Inventive step: it is considered that an invention involves an inventive step if it does not result from the state of the art in a way that is evident to an expert in the matter.

  3. Industrial application: it is considered that an invention is enabled for industrial application when the subject of the invention can be manufactured or used in any class of industry, including agriculture.

In accordance with the requirement of being novel, a research result cannot be published before patenting it, as a publication prior to the submission of the patent application would result in the loss of the novelty of the invention, which would then become non-patentable.


Utility models

Utility models protect inventions of a lower inventive rank than those protected by patents, consisting of providing an object with a configuration or structure from which a utility or practical advantage for its use or manufacture is derived. For example, a mop bucket.

The device, instrument or tool that can be protected by the utility model is characterized by its "utility" and "practicality".


Domain names (DNS)

A domain name is the Internet address of a company, organization, association or person that allows their information and their products and services to be accessible worldwide over the Internet.

There are three levels of Internet domains:

  1. Top-level domains.

Generic: These are the ones ending in ".com", ".gov", ".edu", ".org", etc. and they are allocated by institutions designated by the ICANN.

Country code: these are the ones that identify the country, such as ".es" and ".ny".

  1. Second-level domains: this is the name that is registered when applying for a domain, eg in, "uoc" is the second-level domain.

  2. Third-level domains: "", "", "", "" and "".

How can the author protect their work? Registration and identification of documents

For a work to be protected, the author simply has to declare their authorship in a visible place in the publication without the need for any additional procedure.

Similarly, a number of options are available so that authors wishing to do so can register their works, identify them uniquely and grant user licenses with which the permitted uses of the work for users can be described.


Does a work have to be registered?

A work is any original literary, artistic or scientific creation expressed by any medium or support, tangible or intangible, currently known or that may be invented in the future.

As of the moment that the work is created, the author already enjoys all the benefits of the law and, therefore, does not have to do anything in addition to protect their rights; to this effect, no one can make use of the work without the mandatory authorization of the author.

This notwithstanding, there are various systems for registering and identifying works:

  • Intellectual Property Register

  • Safe Creative

  • Legal deposit


  • Others


Registration systems

The Intellectual Property Register

The Intellectual Property Register is an agency envisaged in the Intellectual Property Act, conceived as one of the systems for protecting intellectual property rights through the proof and the publicity of the rights that are registered with it.

For the work to be protected, it is not necessary to register it with the Intellectual Property Register, as the work is protected due to the sole fact of its creation. Therefore, registration is declaratory, not constituent.

The advantages offered by registering with the Register are that it provides qualified proof that the rights registered exist and belong to their holder, except in the case where the opposite is proven, and publicity is given to the rights registered.


Safe Creative

Safe Creative is a private register of contents on digital media.

For authors, registering their work with Safe Creative is the proof of authorship of a register with irrefutable technological guarantees: deposit of the work, registration of multiple digital imprints and double time stamping; for the users of the works it provides certainty about the license and permitted uses.

Since registration with a public register is not compulsory in order to acquire intellectual property rights or to obtain the protection that the law provides to authors and other intellectual property rights holders, registering the material in a private register, as in the case of Safe Creative, offers evidence of authorship. The essential purpose of registration is to be able to show that a work has been created before that of a third person for the purposes of proving its originality.

To this effect, users can register their works using the service and leave a record of their authorship and intellectual property rights, since the aim of all of this is to provide a mechanism of proof in the event of cases of plagiarism or improper use of works of intellectual property.


Legal deposit

Legal deposit is the obligation for printers and publishers to deposit copies of all of their publications of all types disseminated on any medium with the aim of collecting and preserving all the production published in Spain and enable access to it. Authors who self-publish their works also have this obligation.

An infringement is committed if the obligation of legal deposit is not fulfilled. The following are infringements:

  • The publication of a work without having applied for the legal deposit number.

  • The publication of a work with a false or incomplete legal deposit number.

  • The fact of not having provided the copies.

  • The fact of not informing the legal deposit office of the postponement or cancellation of a publication.

Although legal deposit is not a system for protecting intellectual property rights as such, it does allow a work to be identified.



ISBN (International Standard Book Number)

The ISBN is a unique numerical identifier created for every book, based on a standardized combination of numbers that indicate a country or original language code, the publisher, the number of the article and check digits, which permits the identification of any book and the use of IT tools to locate it.

The ISBN is allocated by the Spanish ISBN Agency to publishers or authors who self-publish the works.

ISSN (International Standard Serial Number)

The ISSN is an internationally recognized numerical code for the identification of serial publications (journals, yearbooks, newsletters, collections of dossiers, etc.).

The National ISSN Centre of the country of publication is responsible for allocating this number. In Spain, it is based in the National Library.

When a journal is published in paper and electronic format, a different ISSN number is allocated for each format.



  • Identifiers of works in print format:

ISBN (International Standard Book Number

ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) 

NIPO (Official Publication Identification Number)

ISAN (International Standard Audiovisual Number)

ISMN (International Standard Music Number)

ISRC (International Standard Recording Code)

ISWC (International Standard Work Code)


  • Identifiers of works in digital format:




What can be done if a work has been used illegally?

In the event that anyone has plagiarized a work or made use of it in any way that is not permitted by law without the consent of the rights holder, the latter may, without prejudice to any other actions that may correspond to them, seek the cessation of the illegal activity of the offender and demand compensation for the material and moral damages caused. They may also seek the publication or dissemination, in full or in part, of the court or arbitration ruling in the media at the cost of the offender.

To be able to detect possible unauthorized uses of the work, a plagiarism detection program can be used, which allows documents that coincide partially or completely and are disseminated on the Internet to be scanned.

For more information about how to detect plagiarism and protect a work, the academic plagiarism dossier produced by the Library can be consulted.