Understanding Intellectual Property

An idea can be a business’s most valuable asset. Whether it’s a business name, an original product or a portfolio of designs, your business will have intellectual property (IP) that needs to be protected.

It’s also important to understand how intellectual property rights work. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a lengthy and potentially expensive conflict with a competitor.

Protecting your business name

Registering a business or company name doesn’t automatically give you the exclusive right to trade under that name. However, if you register your business name as a trademark, no one else will be allowed to use it.

Protecting your domain name

Although registering an Internet domain name gives you the sole right to use that domain name online, it doesn’t stop others from using the same (or a similar name) elsewhere. You can protect your domain name by registering it as a trademark – if it meets the requirements of trademark laws.

Registering a trademark

A trademark can be a logo, word, phrase, symbol or another mark that identifies your business or your brand. Find out if another business has already registered the same (or a similar) trademark to yours by searching the United States Patent and Trademark Office register.

Safeguarding copyright

If your business produces original films, music, artwork, software programs, books or other publications, they’ll be automatically protected by copyright under Australian copyright law.

Deter potential copiers by including a copyright notice on every piece of work you create.

How to avoid your business ideas being stolen

It’s important to keep an original business idea under wraps as long as possible. Below are a few ways to prevent your ideas being stolen.

Wait before you make your ideas public

It’s not a wise idea to discuss, publish, sell or demonstrate your invention or design in public before filing a patent or design registration application. Make sure you have the right protection in place before telling the world about your great idea.

Use confidentiality agreements

Ask a lawyer to draw up a confidentiality agreement and ensure all staff, potential investors, and other parties of interest sign it before you disclose any confidential information. Even if someone has signed a confidentiality agreement, it’s still not smart to give away too much specific information.

Be careful who you speak to

Before talking to another person about your idea, research their credentials thoroughly. Look on the Internet for information about their career and double check by speaking with a few of their previous clients or partners.

Document everything

If you ever have to fight a legal battle, it will help enormously if you have written and dated proof of everything relating to your ideas.

Although it costs money to protect your business ideas, it will be money well spent if it stops someone from taking them and profiting on your behalf.

Next steps

It’s a good idea to consult a qualified IP specialist to get advice on whether you’re breaching someone else’s IP. They can help you determine if your IP is a trademark, patent or copyright (the most common forms), and if it’s already in use by someone else. You need to determine:

  • If someone else has better rights to it
  • If the same business name has been registered
  • If someone else has already applied for the patent or copyright
  • If there are currently any disputes around a certain IP
  • If your employer has rights to the IP and if you can obtain it from them

Related Posts

How to Complete a SWOT Analysis
How to Complete a SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is used to help fine-tune your business strategy by examining internal and external factors that may help or hinder your business. Identifying and understanding the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats – that’s what SWOT stands for – allows you to address them and make smarter decisions moving forward.
A SWOT analysis will help you to identify each of these characteristics for your business so that you can better understand what you’re doing well, what you could improve, and which external factors could affect your business.

Starting a Small Business: FAQs
Starting a Small Business: FAQs

Here are some of the questions about starting a business that come up frequently.
Q: I’m thinking about turning my hobby into a business. Do I have to form a corporation?
A: No, you don’t have to form a corporation to start a business. There are three basic business structures: sole proprietorship, partnership, and limited liability company (LLC). Most businesses start as sole proprietors, and then progress to becoming a partnership or LLC later.

7 Ways to Tell if Your Business Idea Will Succeed
7 Ways to Tell if Your Business Idea Will Succeed

Document the positives in your business plan to persuade both yourself (the most important person) and stakeholders such as lenders, investors, suppliers and potential customers that your business idea is sound.
1. Your idea has a strong point of difference
To survive in business, you need a compelling point of difference. Period.

LATEST NEWS

Stay Connected

Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates
* indicates required