Providing A Service? Here’s How To Protect Your Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) refers to property of your mind or proprietary knowledge. It is often a crucial part of your business’ brand and is thus important for you to protect.

What intellectual property does my business have?

The first step to take as a business is understanding what IP assets you have. This may include elements such as your business logo, name, slogan and products. It can further include an invention, trade mark, design, brand or even the application of your idea. Specifically for service businesses this can involve protecting your business model instead of a specific product.

Steps to protect intellectual property

It’s important for service businesses’ to ensure they have established a services agreement. This protects the terms between the business and the entities they provide services to.

In the digital world of today it’s pivotal not to publish your patent or design until you have ownership. This means avoiding publicising details in public domains such as Twitter or LinkedIn. However, it may be necessary to communicate about the IP. One way to do this and ensure the assets remain confidential is by creating a non-disclosure agreement. This allows you to disclose information to employees or other relevant individuals without being at risk of public disclosure.

Another step to take is to ensure your ideas are original to ensure you aren’t infringing on the rights of others. You can do this by searching the patent, trade mark and design databases as below.

  • For trade marks, you can use the Australian Trade Mark Search.
  • Patents, you can use the Australian patent search.
  • Designs, you can use the Australian Design Search.

Once you have identified and ensured you aren’t going to reveal the assets you wish to protect the next step is protecting them. There are different options for protecting your IP. Patents protect inventions while design registration protects the look of patents. A registered trade mark protects brand names, logos, original sounds and scents, and even aspects of packaging. It is advisable to consult a trademark or patent lawyer.

After you have established your IP, it’s crucial to be vigilant and look out for infringements against your IP. To do this, it may be helpful to have a process in place so your employees can report any potential infringements. If this does occur you will need to seek an intellectual property lawyer to issue a cease and desist letter.

Conclusion

IP refers to the original works of your mind or corporation. Service businesses are likely to have some form of IP to protect. They should subsequently protect the IP through a trademark, patent or design. It is further important to protect your IP to ensure you are not infringing on someone else’s IP. Once you have established your IP, you need to be aware of the market to respond to any potential infringements.

Don’t know where to start?
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