Patent, trademark or copyright: are you protected?

23 01 2016

Believe it or not, many business owners spend countless hours in developing intellectual property (known as ‘IP’) such as brands, processes, documents and product development only to overlook one critical step – the protection of it. Unfortunately many business owners disregard the importance of IP protection due to the cost and time involved. Today, more than ever, it is important to protect your IP.

Consequently, it is important to be aware of the different types of IP protection available.


IP Australia defines a patent as a right granted for a device, substance, method or process that you have invented that is new, inventive and useful compared to what is already known. What’s more, a patent is legally enforceable and during the life of the patent you are able to commercially exploit your invention.


In comparison a trademark gives you the right to protect the features that make your brand unique. These unique features can include a letter, number, word, phrase, sound, smell, shape, logo and/or how you package your product. A trademark is also legally enforceable and gives you the right to stop others using your trademark in the categories it’s registered in. In addition, a trademark gives you exclusive rights to use, license, and sell your brand in Australia.


In contrast, there is no official registry of copyright in Australia as copyright comes into existence the moment a work is created. The Copyright Act 1968 provides copyright protection. In fact, it provides you exclusive rights to license others to use or reproduce your work, perform it in public, broadcast it, publish it and make adaptations of it.

In short, IP protection is an essential element for all businesses. Whether it’s protecting your brand with a trademark, or protecting an invention with a patent, all business owners need to understand the significance of their IP and how they can protect it.

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