Intellectual property is a type of intangible property which is the product of mental creativity or thought. Despite being intangible, intellectual property can have substantial commercial value.
There are many categories of Intellectual Property. The most common types are Copyright, trade marks, Patents and trade secrets.
- A copyright protects the specific way in which an idea or fact is expressed, but not the idea itself. For example, works of writing, drawings, paintings, photographs and source code are all protected by copyright. The author of the work owns the copyright. In Australia, copyright protection arises automatically when the author first creates the work.
- A trademark is a mark of origin used to distinguish the goods and services of your business from your competitors. The most common trade marks are words, logos and slogans, but a trade mark can also include sounds, smells, packaging design or pictures. Trade Marks should be registered to take advantage of formal legal protection. Unregistered trade marks have very limited protection in Australia.
- A patent is a legal right to the exclusive commercial use or sale of an invention. A patent is not automatic and must be applied for. To qualify for a patent, the invention must be unique and innovative. There are significant requirements for a patent application and legal advice should be sought as early as possible. Making your invention public too early may disqualify your invention.
- Trade Secrets are a branch of intellectual property which is protected by contractual agreements between the parties involved. Trade secrets are often employed where an invention or process is not eligible for patent protection or where there is a concern that making the information public may result in commercial loss.
Our lawyers can assist you by assessing your level of intellectual property protection and advising on the best way to protect sensitive information and brand.