It’s a good idea to take some time now and then to give your business an ‘IP Health Check’. Do you know the types of IP that give value to your business and who owns it?
What Is IP And Why Protect It?
IP stands for Intellectual Property. It refers to the various rights to do with ownership of intangible property.
IP is often one of the most valuable aspects of the business, especially for innovative businesses that capitalise on their smarts. This is because IP is the thing that makes your business unique and differentiate itself from your competitors.
What Are The Types Of IP?
There are several types of IP, but some of the most common types are:
- Copyright protection arises automatically without the need for registration.
- It covers creative works expressed in a material form.
- Examples: books, music, art works, software code.
- Registering an Australian trade mark gives the owner an exclusive right to use the trade mark in Australia and prevent others from using it.
- This is not the same as registering a business name with ASIC – that just allows you to do business under that name.
- Trade marks can be for the name of your business, a logo, or a slogan.
- Trade marks can also take many other forms such as a shape, colour, sound or scent.
Confidential Information/ Business ‘Know How’
- Sometimes the best way to protect information is to keep it a secret, or control how it spreads.
- This often applies to business process documents and other trade secrets.
- NDAs and other tools can help you do this.
- Registering a patent allows you to protect new inventions.
How Do You Protect Your IP?
As a small business or startup, there are 3 main ways to protect your IP:
- Intellectual property and confidentiality clauses in all your contracts
- Intellectual property assignment deeds and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
- Registration of trade marks, designs or patent
IP And Confidentiality Clauses In Contracts
Having well drafted contracts with your employees, contractors, service providers, suppliers, customers – basically anyone that comes into contact with your business – is an important way to protect the hard work and creative thinking you’ve put into your business. It can be hard to know exactly how to word it, but having a lawyer draft these contracts, giving particular attention to the IP and confidentiality requirements that are specific to your business, will give you that peace of mind.
Intellectual Property Assignment Deeds And NDAs
An IP Assignment Deed is a legal document that transfers ownership of the IP created by one person to someone else.
If you’re engaging in confidential commercial discussions, you can also use an NDA or a confidentiality agreement. When the other parties sign this legal document, they are prohibited from dispersing or using any confidential information you share during the discussions.
Registration Of Trade Marks
Registering your business name and logo as a trade mark is a key way to protect your business’s brand, image and reputation. Registration gives the business exclusive use of the trade mark within certain classes of business activities. If you don’t register a trade mark, someone may come in with a very similar name or logo and prevent you from using yours.
It is possible to apply for a trade mark by yourself – see here for more information. However, it can be pretty confusing to figure out if you’ve done it properly and it’s normally a good idea to get a lawyer to help you.
Registration Of Patents
Registering a patent is a way to give you exclusive commercial rights to your invention (a monopoly). The process of registering a patent can be very technical, and it is normally a good idea to seek expert advice.
Need an IP Health Check?
Managing IP is one of the most important legal aspects of running a business – but it can be complex and confusing to know if you’re doing it right.
At Sprintlaw, we have a team of experienced lawyers can assist you with protecting your different types of IP. Get in contact with one of our consultants for a no-obligation chat on how we can help you work out how to identify and protect your IP so that it is adding value to your business – and help with any other legal issues your business may have.