You’d be surprised as to how many small companies use no form of protection when it comes to their Intellectual Property, or IP. Even some larger businesses aren’t much better.
Below are 5 common intellectual property mistakes and how to avoid them – have a read - it will prevent trips to your lawyer’s office and save you a lot of money!
Not Realizing the Value of Your Intellectual Property
If you think that registering your business name and putting a “©” on everything you create is enough to protect your IP, you are wrong. Part of the reason for this is that your intellectual property covers a lot more than you might thing.
Some common things which can fall under the banner of your intellectual property are your:
- Branding & logo;
- Marketing strategies
- Business development strategies
- Client details
- Supplier details
- Physical appearance of your products
- Staff manuals
- Operating procedures
Don’t overlook the value of the IP you create – you’re probably creating a lot of it and it’s part of the value proposition you sell to your customers or clients every day. If you’re unsure of where you stand, try consulting an IP lawyer to find out more about this.
Not Safeguarding Your Brand Name Properly
With the recent introduction of a National Business Name Register, some business owners, especially start-ups, may have been given the impression that all they need to do is register their business name with ASIC to get protection all over Australia.
But that is hardly the case.
It is best to trademark your name and logo to prevent other businesses from registering and using your name if you can. Unfortunately when it comes to trademark registration, it’s the first trademark registration that is able to use the business name for a similar business, and not dependent on whether you have a decent trading history behind you.
So you need to register your business name as a trademark if you want to truly own it, and be able to protect it.
Discussing Your Idea Carelessly
When you come-up with a brilliant idea, it’s natural to be ecstatic and excited about it that you just want to blurt out all your concepts to your family and friends. Yes, we understand that you want to tell them your ingenious idea as they may also be able to give you some advice and most likely give you their full support. But tread carefully.
You have to be careful even when talking to family and friends. Once an idea is out, you can’t really draw it back in. Generally, the law says that if you disclose an invention to others, even if they are friends and family, your ability to get a patent may be seriously compromised.
It is also a good point to keep your notes and design ideas. No matter what you have invented or designed and even if you have not registered it, evidence of your idea, how you evolved and developed the idea, any drawing or sketches you made along the way and any other notes, etc., go a long way toward evidencing your process for development of the work.
Talk to an attorney before discussing any innovative business idea and demand that a non-disclosure agreement is signed by potential business partners, financiers or investors. And of top of that, even with those agreements signed, never tell them any more than they absolutely need to know.
Failing to See the Global Picture
The internet is an amazing tool for business but it can also create countless headaches in terms of intellectual property.
IP theft can now come from all corners of the globe, by anyone who has the ability to log onto your website. After making sure you are protected in Australia, it’s worth looking into how your IP can extend overseas.
Selling Yourself Short
Some businesses can get sucked into the web of larger and/or more experienced rivals that promise to expand their business.
It’s difficult; you feel flattered when you get approached, excited when they talk about the funding and resources they can bring to bear to help you “go global” then one day you turn around and find that they own the IP and you don’t.
Never ever negotiate with the big boys without having your own lawyer on board.
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