Your Intellectual Property, known as "IP" is an important asset in today's knowledge economy that needs to be strategically managed.
Increasingly, Australian businesses are realising that intangible assets are often more valuable than their physical assets.
Protecting and managing your IP is important and is often the difference between success and failure in your market.
So, what can be considered IP?
According to IP Australia, it is defined as your creative and intellectual output or in other words, "the property of your mind or proprietary knowledge. Basically, the productive new ideas you create. It can be an invention, trade mark, design, brand, or the application of your idea."
In fact, your IP assets could be vital to the success of your business which means that any business owner should periodically review what might make up those assets and then take appropriate steps to secure ownership.
Cost of protecting IP
Any method to reduce the cost of IP needs to be balanced against the value of proper protection. There is a real danger that short-cutting protection measures will result in the IP not being properly protected. There are various other methods of protecting your IP but necessarily they do not rely upon the statutory methods of registration. For example, confidential information, unregistered trademarks and reliance upon fiduciary obligations, which invariably rely upon a court protecting the unregistered rights of the owner. However, these unregistered rights will always be subject to another party's registered rights.
If you are unable to justify the preliminary costs, then it's feasible that the IP has no immediate or future value to you and registration is unwarranted. This can be compared to taking out life insurance -- you hope you will never have to access life insurance but it's there to provide protection against unforeseen events. A similar attitude should be applied to the protection of your IP.
At Clarke McEwan we have access to resources that have been developed in consultation with IP Australia. IP Australia is the Australian Government agency that administers intellectual property rights and legislation relating to patents, trade marks, designs and the like.
If you have concerns that you may have valuable IP that is not adequately protected under Australian Law, talk to us at Clarke McEwan for more advice.