A Guide To Intellectual Property
Whether you are writing a book, developing an app, or inventing a new product, it is critical to ensure that your ideas and intellectual property remain legally protected, and completely owned by you.
What is Intellectual Property?
Commonly referred to simply as IP, IP encompasses the unique, intangible ideas you produce that can be legally owned and protected, so that that no other persons or company can legally copy your ideas. The main areas of Intellectual Property protection are the laws that deal with Copyright, Trade Marks, Patents, Registered Designs, Plant Breeder’s rights and Circuit layouts.
Why should I protect my Intellectual Property?
As your business grows, so too does the value of your assets and the ability to differentiate you from similar brands and competitors. These assets may be as simple as a logo or extend to the design and workings of your product. Protecting your Intellectual Property ensures that as your ideas grow so does the value of your business.
How Can I Protect My Intellectual Property?
You might now be wondering how to own Intellectual Property. Firstly, it is important to recognise just what needs protecting, and the category your Intellectual Property falls under. So, what are the different types of Intellectual Property? The Australian Government website for business, lists the different types of Intellectual Property.
Patents – provides legal protection for a device, substance, method or process;
Trade marks – protection of the physical characteristics and indicators of your business;
Copyright – protects art, writing, music, film, and computer programs;
Registered designs – protects the visual design of a product, such as brand names, logos, scents etc;
Circuit layout rights – protect layout designs or plans of integrated circuits used in computer-generated designs;
Plant breeder’s rights – protect the commercial rights of new plant varieties.
It is also a good idea to place watermarks on your Intellectual Property. These includes signs such as ©, ™, and ® these symbols communicate to other brands and the public that your work is protected. Whether you can use one of these symbols may depend on the intellectual property actually being protected.
Why is Confidentiality Important?
Until you obtain legal protection of your Intellectual Property it is also vital to ensure your idea remains as confidential as possible. If you must share information about your idea, it is a good to ensure any involved party sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), to prevent someone from sharing or using your idea without your consent. This is particularly important when pitching your idea to a company or potential financial backers.
How Can I Register My Intellectual Property?
Most Intellectual Property types should be registered on the Australian Government website for Intellectual Property, which recommends that you “should do a comprehensive search” to make sure that your idea is not already registered.
By formally registering your Intellectual Property, you can ensure that if any disputes arise, you are completely protected.
In Australia, copyright protection is entirely automatic, so you are not required to formally apply for copyright protection.
It is important to note that if you want your Intellectual Property to be protected internationally, you must make a separate application in each county in which you want protection.
Even though you may have registered your Intellectual Property rights, it is also important to regularly conduct research to ensure that no other party is infringing on these rights and possibly take legal action if necessary to protect your rights.
Key take away
Intellectual Property protection is achieved through several different legal strategies. It is important to be aware of these strategies and avoid delaying protecting your idea, brand or logo.
Protection of Intellectual Property in Australia is becoming increasingly important. If you have an idea, brand or logo you wish to protect we can help. Lord Commercial Lawyers is a commercial and business-focused law firm based in the Melbourne CBD. We work with businesses and individuals to help them achieve their legal and commercial goals.