5 Intellectual Property Assets You Should Protect
“A product can be quickly outdated, but a successful brand is timeless.” – Stephen King
Your brand name is one of the first and also one of the most important decisions you will make when you start your business. The choice of name is very important as is owning the rights in it. A registered business name or company though the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (‘ASIC’) does not stop other businesses from using a similar name, or worse, the same name. This is where a trade mark comes along. Trade marks protect your brand name and identity, making sure you have an exclusive right to use the name and no one else can use the same or similar name. The value of your brand name goes up when your business becomes bigger and more successful. A trade mark may take a while (about 7 and ½ months) to register, but once it is registered, you have a registration for 10 years, that you can renew indefinitely. Registration is the only effective way to secure exclusive rights in a name! for making the process easy in registering trademark in Melbourne you can take advice of trademark lawyer in Melbourne .
“The line of “Make America great again’, the phrase, that was mine, I came up with it about a year ago, and I kept using it, and everybody’s using it, they are all loving it. I don’t know I guess I should copyright it, maybe I have copyrighted it.” – Donald Trump
Some businesses create original works or content, like movies, music, art, or literature. In Australia, original works are automatically protected by copyright. Provided the relevant criteria in the Copyright Act are satisfied, an original work is protected from the time it is first created or published. Copyright laws ensure that when you create an original work, no one else can use it without your permission. Although copyrights are automatic and “free” because no official registration is necessary, it is still your responsibility to make sure your rights are enforced. The general rule is that the first owner of a copyright in a ‘work’ is its creator, however, exceptions do apply. For example, in the case of an employer/employee relationship, the owner of the copyright will be the employer if the work was created in the course of the employee’s usual duties.
“Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.” – Robert L. Peters
A registered design is a statutory right which protects the features of the appearance of a product, that is, its shape, configuration, pattern, or ornamentation. Design is all about the unique visual elements of a product and does not provide protection in relation to the construction, material, function, or operation of a product. A registered design gives the owner of the design a right to prevent other parties from exploiting the design. This means that no one else can license or sell your product but you. Design registration also means that the appearance of your product cannot be imitated, and another person cannot make knockoffs without your permission.
“Patents are being used to wage war in the digital world, and as a result, patents have become a toll gate on the road of innovation.” – Charles Duhigg
A patent is the monopoly right to the exclusive use of an invention. With a patent, you have the exclusive rights to making, selling, using, importing, or exploiting your invention for as long as the patent remains in force. Patents can be obtained for products and processes that are new and useful. Your invention must be novel and differ from other products and processes already disclosed to the public at the priority date. The duration of a standard patent is 20 years.
“Privacy is relational. It depends on the audience. You don’t want your employer to know you’re job hunting. You don’t spill all about your love life to your mom or your kids. You don’t tell trade secrets to your rivals.” – Barton Gellman
What your competitors don’t know, they can’t use against you. Trade secrets comprise confidential information, and ideas about your product or service that gives you a competitive edge over your competitors. These can include formulas, methods, recipes, processes, systems, and other secret “know-how”. You cannot have a trade secret registered. A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is typically used to protect these secret bits of information. Since you cannot register a trade secret, there is no time limit to its protection. The best way to protect your trade secrets is to make sure they are kept a secret!
- If you are a startup, invest some time informing yourself on intellectual property.
- Intellectual property is concerned with intangible assets of value and are typically derived from creative or intellectual effort.
- Educating yourself on the basics of trademarks, patents, copyrights, design, and trade secrets will save you headaches later.
- As a small business, it is essential to protect the intellectual property rights in your unique products or services to prevent competitors from riding on your success to take away market share.
Svethlana Milanes, ABComm
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Disclaimer. The material in this post represents general information only and should not be taken to be legal advice.