To define intellectual property in simple terms, it is the creation of ideas, technology, inventions, literary works, artistic works, designs, and more used in commerce. When dealing with your company’s intellectual property, it is good to be cautious. Depending on what type of property you are dealing with, you can legally protect it. Listed below are the definitions of the protections.
Copyrights give protection to authors for their original content. It protects writing, pictures, music, and art. If you do not want people to reuse your work without your permission, copyrights will protect that. Fair Dealing gives people use of your copyrighted works such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.
A patent is a legally enforceable right for a device, substance, method or process. Your invention must be new, useful and inventive or innovative for your application to be valid. You can search for your idea you want patented to make sure it is a unique idea. There are different lengths of time covered for different types of patents:
- A standard patent lasts for up to 20 years.
- An innovation patent only lasts for up to eight years.
- Pharmaceutical patents can last up to 25 years
A trademark is not just a logo, it can be a number, letter, sound, shape, picture, logo, or a combination of these. You get exclusive rights to use, license or sell the mark after you register for it. Registering for a mark is extremely difficult because the process compares you to millions other marks already trademarked. You could be too similar to a mark or you could have a weak mark that wouldn’t be easily recognizable. You are able to search for other trademarks. Trademarks can be used as a marketing tool since consumers can identify you from your mark. The registration lasts 10 years and can be renewed 12 months prior to expiration or 6 months after. You are able to produce trademarks without registering them. You can label them with ™, but they are not protected as an intellectual property. Registered trademarks carry the ® symbol. It is illegal to label your trademark with it, if not registered.
Trade secrets can’t be registered like trademarks can. The best way to protect your secrets is to have a confidentiality agreement for employees and distributors to sign. For it to be considered a trade secret, it must be used for business and give an advantage over the competition who don’t have the information. According to IP Australia, common law provides protection for infringement of trade secrets, breach of confidentiality agreements and passing off trademarks. Proving a breach of confidentiality under common law can be complex and is potentially more costly than defending registered rights.
**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.