Intellectual Property

Is your intellectual property protected?

The value of a business is partly made up of the value its intellectual property (IP). If this value is important, it makes sense to protect it, right?

Protection of intellectual property is something people only think about once there is a problem. Fortunately, it is very easy to put real IP protections in place quickly and cheaply.

What is intellectual property?

  • Confidential information (client lists, data). Protected by contracts and common law duties.
  • Trademarks (logos and marks identified with the ™ or ® symbols).
  • Copyright (artistic works etc.). Protection by operation of the Copyright Act and identified by use of © symbol.
  • Patents (complex technical inventions). Protection by registration.
  • Designs (footwear designs). Protection by registration.

How to protect intellectual property – identify what needs protecting

A simple IP audit of your business will help you identify what needs protecting.

Consider some questions like these ones:

  • If anyone exploited my client lists, might this damage my repeat business?
  • If one of my senior employees went to work for a competitor, would I lose business because clients might go with them?
  • If my business partner left, do I know what would happen with our clients?
  • Are all of the logos, names and corporate slogans used by my business registered Trademarks?
  • Since a company cannot create IP itself, am I sure that there is a contract in place to ensure effective assignment of IP to where I want it?

How to protect intellectual property – identify the threats

The biggest threats to your IP (in order) are:

  • Employees/contractors
  • Partners/Co-founders
  • Competitors
  • Outsourced consultants

We will be writing more articles in the coming weeks about each ‘threat’ to your IP and how to protect.

How to protect intellectual property – agreements to put in place

The articles above will hopefully go into more detail about specific issues but, generally, here are some basic agreements which should always be in place:

  • Employment contracts with IP terms.
  • Intellectual property assignment deed.
  • Shareholder agreement with IP clauses (for companies).
  • Partnership agreements dealing with IP rights in the event of dissolution of partnership.

Foulsham and Geddes notes that this article is written for the purpose of providing generalised information and not to provide specialised legal advice. If you require qualified legal advice on anything mentioned in this article, our experienced team of solicitors at Foulsham and Geddes are here to help. Please get in touch with us on 02 9232 8033 today to make an enquiry.