Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Starting a business – innovation and intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) represents creations of the mind or intellect that can be legally owned.  The Australian IP laws allow you to protect your business’ IP through a variety of measures, such as copyright, patents, trade marks, and registered designs.

IP protection can either be automatic or require registration.

Automatic rights


Copyright protects the expression of ideas and information in certain forms including writing, music, visual images, broadcasts, sound recording, moving images and computer programs.  Copyright protection is provided under the Copyright Act 1968 and is designed to prevent the unauthorised use by others of a work that is in its original form.

It is particularly important to web- and content-based businesses.

Copyright protection is free and automatic.  However, you should place a copyright notice on your work or website.  The notice is not necessary in Australia, but it can be required to establish copyright in some other countries.


Automatic protection also exists for:
  • Circuit layout rights – designs for highly complex integrated circuits or computer chips
  • Confidential information and trade secrets – common law protects you from people stealing your trade secrets and/or breaching confidentiality agreements; make sure you back up your trade secrets with a confidentiality agreement signed by every person who has knowledge of any secrets