Azerbaijan has adopted regulations governing patents, trademarks, copyright and know-how. The Azerbaijani Committee for Standardization, Metrology and Patent (Patent Committee) issues patents and registers trademarks, and related agreements. The State Agency for Copyrights registers copyrights (Copyrights Agency).
The Azerbaijani Law On Patents, dated June 25, 1997 (Patent Law) governs, among other things, procedure for issue and protection of patents. A patent can be issued to an invention, utility model and industrial design. These terms are defined in the Patent Law. In particular, the law defines an “invention” as technical solutions relating to any product or process. The Patent Law further elaborates on the elements of an invention in Section 7: an invention must (a) be novel (or new), (b) not be obvious or known to others, and (c) be useful.
In order to obtain a patent, the author or its patent attorney must submit application to the Patent Committee for the registration. Azerbaijan has acceded to the 1883 Paris Convention on Protection of Intellectual Property, and Patent Cooperation Treaty. The Patent Law allows for international application for patents. A patent issued to an invention is valid for 20 years from the date the authority submits application for registration. For a utility model and industrial design a patent is valid for 10 years from the date of application.
A holder of patent is entitled to exclusive economic rights attached to patents, such use of patented invention, utility model and industrial design for commercial purposes. A holder of patent may license its rights to other persons. The license agreement must be registered with the Patent Committee. Azerbaijani law sets out few requirements with respect to the content of patent licensing agreement, therefore, parties are generally free to structure their relationship as they wish.
Azerbaijani Law On Trademarks and Geographic Indications12 (Trademark Law) and Law On Copyrights and Associated Rights (Copyright Law) govern registration and licensing of trademarks and copyrights, respectively. A trademark must be registered with the Patent Committee in order to be enforceable – i.e., owner can claim exclusive economic rights to the trademark. A person may register, among other things, words, symbols, pictures and their combinations as trademarks. A holder of copyright, however, does not have to register its copyright (or the product) in order for its copyrights to be enforceable. A copyright to a product is created when the author creates the product. Registration is only optional. The Copyright Law lists the types of intellectual property that maybe protected as copyright – e.g., artistic works, scientific work, literature, music, video. In particular, “computer programs”, which includes also software, are protected as copyrighted products.
Azerbaijan has acceded to the Madrid system: it is possible to file for the international registration of trademarks. The applicant must file the documents with the Patent Committee and indicate the countries where the registration should apply. If the trademark was first registered outside Azerbaijan, after applying for international registration, the applicant would need to register the trademark in Azerbaijan as well, although for such registration the law sets out more simplified procedure.
Both the Trademark Law and Copyrights Law allow for licensing of trademarks and copyrights, respectively. These laws set out few rather general requirements with respect to the content of trademark or copyrights licensing agreement. Licensing of an intellectual property may arise in different contexts. In particular, it is important to consider the relevant implications in franchising and distribution agreements.