Welcome to the third and final instalment in our series on intellectual property (IP). Our recent podcast, Intellectual Property 101, addressed fundamental questions about IP, its role, the types, benefits, and strategies for small and medium-sized businesses. This article recaps the essential insights from the podcast and explores the power of IP and how it can be harnessed to benefit a business.
Innovation is the lifeblood of any successful business, irrespective of its size. In today’s innovation-driven world, grasping the basics of IP is not just beneficial, but essential for creators and businesses alike. The power of IP lies in its ability to provide businesses with a competitive advantage.
IP, at its core, is about protecting creations of the mind. IP is categorised into 4 main types that can be registered with IP Australia, the Australian government agency that administers IP rights:
- Trade marks protect your brand, and help customers distinguish your goods and services from competitors. You can use a registered trade mark to protect a logo, word, phrase, letter, number, sound, scent, picture, movement, aspect of packaging, or any combination of these. To check the potential registrability of your trade mark you can use IP Australia’s TM Checker tool
- Patents protect any device, substance, method or process that’s new, inventive and useful
- Design rights protect the overall appearance of your new and distinctive product
- Plant breeder’s rights protect new plant variety you have developed.
In addition to these, there are other types of IP not administered by IP Australia, such as copyright, which protects original artistic and literary works, circuit layouts, and trade secrets.
Why is IP important?
IP is an important consideration for your business as it protects what sets you apart from your competitors. Research from IP Australia has found that small businesses with IP rights employ more people, pay higher wages, and are twice as likely to experience high turnover growth than those without.
IP can offer your business the following benefits:
- Exclusivity: Registering your IP gives you the exclusive right to sell, promote, or develop a product for a certain length of time.
- Competitive advantage: IP rights can reduce the chance of your products and/or services being replicated, allowing you to decide who can use your IP and how it can be used.
- Revenue streams: You can sell your IP rights for financial gain, while licensing IP can open additional revenue channels.
- Attracting investment: IP assets can make your business more attractive to investors.
- Legal protection: Registered IP helps in safeguarding against infringement.
Crafting an IP strategy and commercialising your IP
An IP strategy aligns your business’s IP with its overall goals. Here are some steps you can take to create an IP Strategy and commercialise your IP:
- Identify your IP assets: The first step is to identify your business’s IP assets.
- Assess the value of your IP: Once you’ve identified your IP assets, assess their value. Businesses often value their physical assets but forget about valuing their IP. It’s important to recognise the value of these assets early and protect them for the future. This could involve determining how they contribute to your revenue, their potential for future earnings, and their importance in your industry.
- Secure your IP rights: Apply for the appropriate IP protection for your assets. Remember to keep your ideas a secret until you apply.
- Monitor your IP: Regularly monitor your IP to ensure it’s not being infringed upon. This could involve keeping an eye on your competitors and the market, and taking action if you discover any potential infringements.
- Leverage your IP: Look for opportunities to leverage your IP. This could involve licensing your IP to others, using it as collateral for a loan, or selling it outright.
- Review your IP strategy regularly: As your business grows and changes, so too should your IP strategy. Regularly review your strategy to ensure it aligns with your current business objectives and market conditions.
- Consider international protection: If you’re planning on doing business overseas, including manufacturing, consider international IP protection before you enter into those markets.
- Delve deeper into the world of IP by listening to our Intellectual Property 101 podcast.
- Take the necessary steps to protect your brand through IP rights such as trade marks. Get started on your own trade mark with the TM Checker tool.
- For an easy-to-understand overview of IP rights and best practices for managing and protecting these valuable assets, take a look at IP Australia’s IP basics guide.
- Consider consulting with an IP professional to develop an effective strategy tailored to your business needs.
Remember that IP is not just a legal tool but a strategic business asset. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or an established business, understanding and strategically managing your IP can be a game-changer for your business.