You might recall we published an intellectual property refresher which included our Top Tips in relation to the various forms of intellectual property rights that may be available to you. To read this article please see https://arrolawyers.com.au/the-different-types-of-intellectual-property-available/
Since the publication of the above refresher, we have seen a rise in enquiries relating to the protection of Intellectual Property (IP) and what to do if your IP is breached. To assist, we provide a further refresher below on these two specific points.
Protecting your IP
Now that you are clear on the importance of protecting your IP and the different forms of IP you may need to protect, you may be thinking where do I begin?
When it comes to brand-focused IP, applying for a trademark consists of three key steps. You read that correctly, just three. First, you need to search the trademark register to ensure the trademark you want to use is available. There’s not much need for explanation here – you can’t trademark something that’s already been trademarked.
Great news, you’ve just discovered your trademark is available! Now comes the next step: research into the goods or services applicable to your prospective trademarks. This may seem pretty obvious off the top of your head, but it requires some serious thought and is not something to be rushed into. Consider these bullet points offered by IP Australia on the subject:
- Where do you derive your business income?
- What is the nature of your business?
- What are you known for by your customers/clients?
- What products or services does your business provide?
Once you’ve got all of these points solidified and you know exactly what you’ll be seeking to trademark, it’s time to lodge your application. You can do this yourself online by using IP Australia’s online tool, however you would be well advised to speak with a qualified IP lawyer before hand to ensure you’ve crossed and dotted all relevant letters in your submission.
The process for patent application is similar, but it requires even more planning, foresight and advice because there’s a crucial additional stage: ensuring that the technical and/or mechanical specifications of your invention are watertight.
It is important to note that protection of the relevant IP only lasts for set time periods, and IP protection must be renewed on a regular basis.
Breach of your IP
Breaches of IP are unfortunately common, particularly in a digital age. If the correct protection is not in place for your business or product, then the goodwill associated with your business or product may be exploited and used by third parties with limited recourse.
It’s always best practice to have an IP infringement strategy in place, which not only sets out the parameters of your IP protection, but also caters to the process for dealing with infringements. Court proceedings are not always the answer, and there can be many difficulties in taking action against possible infringements. Not only will you need to establish IP ownership, you also need to take into account the potential costs of proceedings compared to the value of infringement action succeeding.
There is an abundance of information contained on the IP Australia website. However, when it comes to drafting applications for trademarks and patents, and copyright notices, it can be a very tricky process best left to the legal experts. Protection, and breach, of intellectual property is a complicated minefield of rules, regulations and time restraints and (just to add to the clarity) IP laws change from country to country.
If you need any advice or assistance relating to your intellectual property rights then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.