Intellectual Property – Protection
More and more, our ideas or work is being copied or stolen! What you write or build, your product designs and branding is your intellectual property and an important business asset!
Your ideas, designs or “builds” are known as intangible assets and are part of your Intellectual Property (IP).
Intellectual Property Theft is a crime – do not get caught out as a victim or accidental perpetrator of IP theft!
Even a tiny micro- business or a new start-up can protect their brand and designs.
Registering Trademarks is easy and relatively cheap even for start-ups. What’s in a Brand? – Trademarks and the IPO and IPO
There are several types of infringements and crimes.
When someone uses all or part of your copyright material without your permission.
These include reproduction, distribution, rental and lending, public performance, communication to the public by electronic transmission including broadcasting, or adaptation.
You have the exclusive right of control acts that affect you economically.
There are also moral rights protecting your wider interests including the right to attribution, stopping derogatory treatment of your work and the right to privacy over photographs and films.
This means manufacturing, using, selling, or importing a patented product or process without the patent owner’s permission. Then, the owner of a patent can take legal action against you and claim damages if you infringe their patent.
With registration of your design, you get the exclusive right to it for 25 years (renewal fees are paid every 5 years). You can act against a third party uses your design, for commercial gain.
Probably the most common issue is the use of an identical or similar trademark for identical or similar goods and services to a registered trademark.
This type of infringement includes cases where similarities between names, products or services could mislead the public to buy your products or services. It extends to where a similar mark could damage the reputation of the registered mark.
If you infringe someones intellectual property rights, the owner may take you to the civil courts and make you stop and pay damages.
Other ways to resolve disputes can include mediation, the use of ‘cease and desist’ letters or by agreement to use rights owned by others.
However, resolving a dispute can be very costly in time, legal fees and fines.
As a business, you must be careful to:
- Check your designs and branding against the trademark register and the patent register to make sure you can use them and,
- Protect your intellectual property by registering it early.
The diagram below shows options for getting infringements sorted and was provided by the Intellectual Property Office.
Want to know more?
You should start with the new online guidance from the Intellectual Property Office.
It covers more on the options available to address IP infringement including affordable access to justice including The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) and private prosecutions.
Also, you can read more about the risks to your business, how to report IP crime and a record of damages awarded in IPEC small claims track and they have provided some training material and information on the Intellectual Property Office website.