Why Your Business Needs an IP Strategy

Intellectual Property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. IP can be an invention, trade mark, design, brand, or the application of your idea. Some of the main categories of IP are trade marks, copyright, patents and trade secrets. Here’s a brief overview of each type:

Trade Mark

Protects logos, words and other branding

Patent

Protects inventions and new processes

Copyright

Protects art, writing, music, film, and computer programs

Registered Designs

Protects the visual design of a product

Circuit Layout Rights

Protects layout designs or plans of integrated circuits used in computer-generated designs

Plant Breeder Rights

Protects the commercial rights of new plant varieties

Trade Secrets

Confidential information such as secret formulas, processes and methods used in production.

Countries around the world have different IP protections and laws. A convenient and cost effective solution for international trade mark protection is The Madrid System. This centralised international system can be used to register trade mark protection in up to 128 countries.

An IP strategy is strategic decision making that protects your original creations and can also include confidential information and domain names.

An example of this (from the Business Queensland government website) is a vehicle.

Design rights can be used to protect the vehicle’s body design. Patents can be used to protect components such as engines or brakes. Production manuals are protected by Copyright Law and the name of the car can be trade marked. Trade secrets can also be used to protect processes behind the development and production of the vehicle.

Managing your business’ intellectual property requires an active approach. There are many reasons why you can’t simply register an asset (for example) or tick a box off your checklist and leave your IP as “set and forget.” The benefits of protecting your IP include creating or protecting revenue streams from your IP, strengthening your brand against competitors in the marketplace, increasing the overall value of your brand and more.

Developing an IP strategy requires an understanding of the intellectual property your business has. You can do this by;

1. Complete an IP Audit to identify the IP your business has. Ensure your IP rights are protected through registration or active management.

2. Develop an IP Asset Register to keep track of all your assets. Having this information consolidated into one place can ensure the effective management and strategic commercialisation of each asset.

An IP Asset Register can record details such as:

The type of IP Asset (Trade Mark, Patent, Copyright, Design Rights, Circuit Layout Rights, Plant Breeder’s Rights, or Confidential Information such as Trade Secrets)

  • The classes they’re registered in (if applicable)

  • The number of assets

  • Dates of registration or creation

  • The country they’re registered in

When you identify, monitor and value your assets make sure you think about:

  • The products or services that are key to your business

  • Your legal rights in relation to your products or services

  • The market advantages your rights can give you

If you need assistance developing an IP strategy, we can help. Contact our office on hello@littonlegal.com.au