Intellectual property: simple definition and examples

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As a business owner, you may be in charge of managing many assets on a daily basis, but there’s one important asset that is commonly overlooked: intellectual property. Intellectual property (IP) is the property of your mind or exclusive knowledge. If you have ever developed a new product, service, process, or idea, it should belong to you and may be considered your intellectual property. IP refers to intangible assets, it contributes to the value and success of your business and is therefore imperative for it to be monitored and protected through IP rights. Read this Business Kitz article to find out more about intellectual property.

What are intellectual property rights?

Intellectual property rights are rights associated with intangible assets owned by a person or company and protected against use without consent. IP rights also provide IP owners with the opportunity to commercialise their creations.

What are examples of intellectual property?

Here’s some examples of the most common types of intellectual property rights and what they are used for:

1.      Patents

A patent protects any device, substance, method or process that is new, inventive and useful.

A patent gives you the right to stop others from manufacturing, using or selling your invention in Australia without your permission. It also lets you license someone else to manufacture your invention on agreed term,s or take legal action against people who are using your invention without your permission.

2.      Trademarks

A trademark is a way of identifying a unique product or service. It can protect a:

  • Word;
  • Phrase;
  • Logo;
  • Letter;
  • Number;
  • Symbol;
  • Sound;
  • Shape;
  • Image; or
  • Scent.

A registered trademark gives you exclusive rights to use, license and sell the protected product or service. This means that no other entity or individual in Australia can commercially use your trademark for the same goods or services you have it registered for. It’s also a valuable marketing tool because the value of your trademark increases with the success of your business.

3.      Copyright

Copyright protects the original way an idea or information is communicated. This can include:

  • Writing;
  • Music;
  • Visual images;
  • Broadcasts;
  • Sound recording;
  • Moving images; and
  • Computer programs.

You do not need to register for copyright in Australia. The moment an idea or creative concept is documented on paper or electronically it is automatically protected by copyright in Australia. Copyright protection is free and automatic under the Copyright Act 1968.

4.      Registered designs

A design right protects the overall visual appearance of new and distinctive products. The overall visual appearance can be a combination of visual features including:

  • Shape;
  • Colour;
  • Configuration;
  • Pattern; and
  • Ornamentation.

A design right may allow you to prevent others from using the design without your permission. You may retain exclusive rights to use, licence and sell the design.

Legal advice

If you need any assistance with matters concerning intellectual property, we recommend seeking legal advice. Our sister company, Legal Kitz can assist with ensuring that your queries are addressed and can provide you with advice that is tailored to your situation. You can book a free 30-minute consultation with our experienced and highly qualified team via our website now.