As a business owner, one of your biggest concerns will be ensuring other businesses are not able to use your ideas and developments and take all the credit. In response to these concerns, intellectual property law has developed to protect and recognize your exclusive right to use and distribute your own creations, and also to authorize others to do so. There are a number of different types of intellectual property rights, each offering their own unique form of protection. These are as follows:
- Copyright – This automatically applies to the expression of any original work developed. As such, you do not need to apply for copyright when you create an original work, but you may need advice on how to avoid breaching copyright of another individual or what to do if you believe somebody is infringing your own rights.
- Patents – These are rights granted over a new device, method or process developed considered new or useful. Essentially, they protect the entire inventing and developing procedure rather than just the final product. Unlike copyright however, you will need to apply to have a patent registered with IP Australia.
- Trade marks – whether it's a logo, slogan, part of your product's packaging or something different altogether, trade mark protection gives you the exclusive right to use, license or sell the mark on your products. Trade marks must also be registered with IP Australia.
- Designs – if part of your product's shape or configuration results in it not only having a unique appearance, but also a commercial function, you may register the design itself with IP Australia to prevent others using this design in their products.
- Trade secrets – a trade secret is a broad term which can refer to any specific method your business utilizes to carry out its practice and develop its products. The information or method must be specifically identifiable and cannot simply be generic know how. The best way to protect trade secrets is through confidentiality agreements.
- Plant Breeder's rights – if your business develops new varieties of plants you may wish to register to protect your right to these breeds under specifically developed intellectual property legislation.
With the increases in science and technology in the modern age, intellectual property is a rapidly expanding area of law with no signs of slowing down. As the area continues to grow, what creations can and cannot be protected under intellectual property legislation can be increasingly difficult to understand. Our Business Disputes team is experienced in the various forms of intellectual property rights listed above and can assess which one, or combination, of the above will offer you the best protection for the use and distribution of your products and practices.