Updated: Jun 1, 2022
Your Intellectual Property is one of your most valuable business assets so it’s wise to protect it.
Engaging an expert can help you secure your innovative creations so you can confidently grow your company. Accountants, patent and trade mark attorneys, IP lawyers, branding consultants and plant breeder qualified persons can all support you with different aspects of your IP.
But it’s also important to get to know the Intellectual Property system yourself so you feel empowered to make the right decisions about your IP.
Here are four simple ways you can start protecting your great ideas.
1. ID YOUR IP
Your business may have a truckload of unprotected IP so take the time to take stock.
What ideas and creations belong solely to you?
Your IP could include anything from your logo, taglines and packaging, to business plans, technical guides and research reports, or an innovative new process or product that sets you apart from your competitors.
You become the owner of your IP when you are the creator of the work. - Copyright Act 1968
2. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Intellectual property can be murky territory. So you need to get crystal clear on which IP rights are best to protect your assets.
While there are a number of rights for different types of IP, the most common registrations in Australia are:
Patents (for inventions and processes)
Trademarks (for branding elements such as logos, words, numbers, colours, phrases, sounds and scents)
Design (for the visual appearance of a product design – not how it works)
Plant breeders’ rights (for commercial rights to new plant varieties).
There are advantages and considerations for each, so it’s always a good idea to seek advice from a professional IP lawyer to find the correct mix for your business.
3. KEEP QUIET
Got a big, beautiful, brilliant idea percolating?
Staying tight lipped will keep your invention safe, whether you’re planning to obtain a patent or design right, or you’re channelling Coca-Cola and KFC with your very own trade secret.
But keeping silent isn’t always practical. So if you do talk to others about your idea, make sure you use a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to prevent them from sharing your confidential information and risking your IP.
4. GET REGISTERED
The best way to protect your brand, product or process is by registering a patent, trade mark, design or plant breeder's right.
Until you’re registered you don’t own your IP, but once you own the rights to it, you can do whatever you like with the work!
Sell it, distribute it, copy it, move it, change it, boast about it.
Once you own the IP, it’s your call.
Having the right IP strategy and applications in place from the beginning can save you from losing brand reputation, market share and customers down the track.
Prevention is always better than cure.
Protect your IP now. Your future self will thank you.