What is Intellectual Property?

 

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What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is a term used to describe the outcomes of creative and innovative endeavours.

It is described as property because it can be owned, sold, transferred or given away. Intellectual Property includes property such as patents, trade marks, copyrights and designs and confidential information.

Intellectual Property is important to your business as it will often include those things which distinguish your business from other businesses.

If you want to franchise your business or licence your business it is essential that you protect your Intellectual Property.

 

Licensing v Franchising



YOUR BUSINESS NAME AND LOGO

Your name and logo (including slogans, pictures, colour schemes and other things which identify you) are your Intellectual Property and are obviously important. Your ability to prevent others from trading off your name and logo rely on your ability to protect them.

There are 2 ways that you can protect your name and logo.

  1. register your name and/or your logo as a trade mark.

    If you do this and someone improperly uses your name/logo, you can take action against them for infringement of your trade mark. A registered trade mark will protect you across Australia in the categories in which your trade mark is registered.

  2. trade under and promote your name/logo.

    The extent to which you can protect your name/logo by trading under and promoting your name/logo will depend on the amount and extent to which your name/logo is known.

    For example if your name/logo are only known in the suburb in which your business is located, then you can only protect your name/logo in this suburb and someone else could start up a business in the next suburb using your name or logo as long as they didn’t promote their business in your suburb.

Registration of a company name, a business name or a domain name does not give you any protection for the registered name. Registration of a trade mark is the best way of protecting your name/logo.

 



YOUR DOCUMENTS AND SOFTWARE

Your original documents and software are also your Intellectual Property. This includes any original letters, e-mails, articles, manuals timetables, databases and computer programs as well as any original videos.

Except in certain circumstances, copyright protects this Intellectual Property.

Copyright does not need to be registered to protect you.

Copyright only protects the actual document, video, computer program etc. It does not protect ideas, information or concepts. An idea, concept or information can still be copied unless it is protected in some other way.

 

 

TRADE SECRETS AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION

Your Intellectual Property also includes trade secrets and confidential information.

You cannot register this Intellectual Property and unfortunately you can only protect this Intellectual Property by keeping it secret. The most common way to do this is by entering into a confidentiality agreement with people who have access to the information.

In addition it is desirable that people who have access to your trade secrets and confidential information, enter into an agreement not to compete with you or to work with anyone that competes with you.

Confidentiality agreements and non compete agreements are not always enforceable.

Consequently, considerable thought should be given to drafting these agreements to ensure that they are both comprehensive and enforceable.

 

 

PATENTS

A patent is an enforceable right to commercially exploit an invention for the life of a patent.

If there are any devices, substances, methods or processes which are unique to you and important to your business then you should, if possible, register these as a patent.

You will then have the exclusive right to use and licence others to use the patented device, substance, method or process.

 

Disclaimer

The information in this article is general in nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any person or other entity. Although we do our best to provide timely and accurate information, we do not guarantee that the information in this article is accurate or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.

 

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