Table of Contents
What is Intellectual property (IP)?
Intellectual property is defined as any creation of the mind, including artistic works, images, illustrations, design, signs, and names used for commercial purposes.
It can be further sub-categorized into:
• Copyright, which covers artistic and literary works, films, music, and architectural design.
• Industrial property, which includes patents for trademarks, industrial designs, geographical indications, and inventions.
If a person holds the right to intellectual property, it means they are allowed to use it for their personal or commercial benefit.
What are the types of intellectual property?
These are the most popular and widely used intellectual property rights.
- Patent: A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention –a product or process that provides a new solution to a problem. Once granted, a patent provides patent owners with protection for their inventions for a limited period of time, usually 20 years.
- Trademark: A trademark is a distinctive sign, which helps to identify certain goods or services provided by a company or an individual. The sign can be composed of a word or a combination of words and numerals, as well as illustrated symbols, or three-dimensional shapes (e.g., specific product package). Since trademarks are associated with a specific company, they can also be seen as an indication of quality for the offered goods or services.
- Copyright: A copyright basically protects the originality of the author. For e.g.: photographs, books, music, or any other form of creative work.
- Trade Secrets: A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, device, commercial method, or compilation of information not generally known and used by a business to manufacture their goods and provide their services.
Why to protect your Intellectual property (IP)?
It is highly recommended for a company or an individual creator to protect their intellectual property to maximize revenue and prevent any commercial exploitation by a third party.
In fact, trademark registration or application for any other type of IP protection will help a business or individual:
- Establish an original good or service that the target consumers will remember for its uniqueness.
- Avoid confusion with another good or service provided by a competitor or a business from a different niche.
- Prevent any competitor who, on purpose or by accident, obtains information about your good or service from replicating your idea.
- Evade infringement use by a different company that has trademarked or patented their good or service and believes you are unlawfully using it for your purposes.
- Collect all the profit that comes as a result of creating, distributing, selling, or generally using the IP.
How can you protect your intellectual property?
Protecting your intellectual property is a vital step in protecting your business. When managed properly, a trademark has the potential to become one of your most valuable commercial assets.
An important initial step is to verify if prior similar rights exist and may have even be registered by prior owners. Most national IP offices offer search engines on their websites (e.g. ATMOS for trademarks in Australia). In addition, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) also offers searches for international registrations for patents, trademarks, or designs.
Depending on the type of business idea or invention, you’ll need to identify what to register and where, and what is better kept under wraps. In most cases, it is advisable to keep any new business idea or invention secret before an IP strategy is defined and implemented and the necessary IP rights registered.