Intellectual Property Protection Rights
You’re a business owner, you’ve registered your business name, and you’re wondering what your next steps are. You want to be able to use your business name, and you don’t want anybody else to use it. You may even have a unique product or service that you want to make sure you own. Intellectual property results when you create a new or unique product, service, name, idea, process, image, and more. However, it can be difficult to know where to start to protect all the different types of intellectual property in your business. This blog outlines the most common types of intellectual property protection rights and what they are used for.
Normally, your company name, business name, and domain name are not included in intellectual property protection rights. However, you can take steps to protect it through a trade mark, which will allow you exclusive rights to your business name. Not only can a trade mark protect your business name and logo, but it can even protect a sound, shape, image, or scent. If anybody else wants to use your trade mark, they will need to negotiate with you to license or sell it to them. However, you do need to have a real intention to use your trade mark. If you have a trade mark that you would like to register, search the Australian Trade Marks Search System available through IP Australia to check if the trade mark is available.
Copyrighting is normally used for arts and communications, such as written work, music and sound recordings, images and videos, and broadcasts. However, it can also be used for web and app programs. Copyrights can be a bit confusing, as they don’t protect an idea or piece of information itself – they protect the way information or an idea is communicated. If you have an idea that you are communicating in a unique way, it may be copyrighted. Thankfully, this is relatively simple to do. In Australia, the Copyright Act 1968 provides automatic and free protection. You will be afforded rights to copy and communicate the material, and rights of attribution. Copyrights last for a long time. For example, they can last for 70 years after the death of the author. However, durations will differ depending on the type and publicity of the material.
Did you invent a device, substance, method, or even process that is unique to your business? If your patent is approved, you will maintain exclusive rights to your invention for up to 20 years for standard patents, or 8 years for innovation patents. If you have an innovation patent, your invention must first be checked by IP Australia and conform with the Patents Act 1990. Unfortunately, if your invention is an artistic creation, mental process or other excluded invention, you will not be able to seek protection through a patent. Patents are the most costly and time consuming form of intellectual property protection. As such, you may wish to conduct a patent search to assess if a similiar patent already exists. This will help you ensure that you don’t infringe an existing patent, and don’t spend time and money seeking patent protection that you are unlikely to obtain. Searching for patents is more difficult than searching for trade marks, but it is a worthwhile endeavour.
Have you developed a unique product design? Is the product distinctive in its shape, colour, configuration, pattern, or ornamentation? If your design takes the physical form of an object or product, you may be able to register this design through IP Australia. This can be something such as a new clothing or appliance design. Unlike trade marks, you can’t register your brand name and logo; and, unlike patents, you can’t register your ideas, the materials you’ve used, or how your product works. However, once the design is registered, nobody will be able to use it without your permission. You will have a period of 10 years to exclusively use, licence, and sell your design.