Everything you ever wanted to know about IP

In Show 129 – Everything you ever wanted to know about IP originally broadcast on Facebook Live on Wednesday 12 September 2018 we go through our training on Phase 5 – Protecting Intellectual property.

You can download a copy of the workbook for todays show here: 129 – Worksheet

Show Notes

Understanding intellectual property is rarely top of mind for most business owners.  Keeping your customers and employees happy will take up the lion’s share of your time.  But IP is incredibly important.  IP represents your combined experience, innovations and brand development that create the fundamental value of your company.  Today on BLL we discuss some of the most important things about IP that you have to understand.

Copyright

Copyright is the legally enforceable claim you have over and legal or artistic work.  What’s that mean?  If you create something unique, you own it and no one else can use it without your permission.  In Australia copyright claims are good for 70 years.  But copyright does not protect an idea – only the expression of that idea.  If you copy my book word for word and sell it under your own name that’s a breach of copyright.  But if you write a book that uses similar ideas and concepts that is not a breach.  The reason for that is that it’s difficult to prove that you stole someone’s idea.  You need to be really careful about using other people’s material on your own website or social media feeds.

The law says that the infringement of a copyright occurs when someone uses a substantial part of another’s work without their permission.  This is hugely important in the age of the internet.  There is an enormous amount of material produced every second on the web.  You must cite anyone that you are quoting or reposting on your own feeds.  If you’re unsure – get advice!

Trademarks

Every business will have a trademark.  It’s what is used to make yourself unique in the marketplace.  If it truly is unique you can register that trademark with IP Australia.  Once you do that your trademark will be protected for 10 years.  What should you be protecting?  The name of your business is the first thing.  If you can’t do that protect your symbol or logo.  The words are more important but but should be protected.

You can still protect an unregistered trademark.  If someone us using a name or a symbol that is deceptively similar you can still seek damages from the court.  It’s known as “passing off”.  It can take longer, however, to get those damages so be sure to register everything you can.  You’ll be much better off in the long run.

License Agreements

These are agreements that allow an entity to use someone else’s IP for a fee.  They are not that complicated and are pretty standard.  That said they still need to be setup correctly.  You can use a license agreement as a way to protect your assets.  Setting up asset protection structures can be very costly.  An easier way to do this is to set up a company that owns all your IP.  You can then license that IP to the business that will actually use it.  That way if your business goes bankrupt you will not lose your intellectual property.

Business operations

The thing that really makes your company worth anything is your process.  This might be the most important IP you own.  You need to put together a really detailed how-to guides.  Don’t create something that is very generic.  It needs to be unique to your business.  A great technique for writing your guide is to visualize a happy customer and work backwards from there.  It makes you really think about every step along the way and will ensure that nothing gets forgotten.  Remember to keep it simple.  Don’t over-complicate your guide and be sure to actually use the thing once it’s written.

Confidentiality Agreements

These agreements can be used to protect any confidential information about your business.  Using these agreements will ensure former employees can’t take your processes and use them elsewhere.  There are plenty of generic CAs on the internet.  Be warned that these will likely not stand up in court.  They have to be specifically tailored to your business.

CAs are not necessary for every business.  You should use them if you are selling property or another asset.  That will protect any private information acquired during that transaction.  If you have a new client that you are working on a deal with you need to get them to sign a CA.  Information that is not in the public domain should be protected.  You should also get employees or contractors to sign them as well.

More about this Show

We started Business Legal Lifecycle to create a simple way for you to understand complex legal terms.  Most importantly we want to help you to develop a plan to take your business successfully into the future.  There’s a startling statistic the underscores the importance of developing a solid plan.  The majority of business owners are just seven months away from losing everything.  A single aspect of your business that is not set-up correctly can shut down your whole operation very quickly.   Legal advice is not cheap and even when you can afford it there is often a divide between lawyers and their clients.  We want to close that gap once and for all.  We want to put legal knowledge and tools into your hand to prevent the worst from happening to you.

Twice a week we are going to deliver those tools right to your home or office with Business Legal Lifecycle TV.  We’ll start the week with Fast Fix Monday, a short 5-10 minute video that will tackle a single issue that businesses have to deal with.  Then on Wednesday’s our main show will feature with more fulsome discussions and interviews all delivered in a straightforward and easy to understand format.