How do you stop people from stealing your game changing ideas and intellectual property? Lynell Tuffery Huria from AJ Park shares her inside knowledge with six simple steps.

As a business owner, your attention is often focused on competing priorities such as perfecting your product or service, servicing and building your customer base and, of course, paying the bills. But taking time to ensure you are protecting your intellectual property will go a long way to helping secure your business’ long-term future.

Business value today is found in intangible IP assets like client lists, trade secrets, trademarks, and branding. While business owners make time to move or renovate new premises, many owners do not spend enough time putting a framework in place to protect their IP assets. Protect your intellectual property with these six tips.

1) Choose a brand that you can protect and enforce

While it’s easy to choose a brand that tells you exactly what the product or service is, these brands are difficult to protect and enforce against others. Choosing a unique and unusual brand will provide you with a strong trade mark that you can easily enforce.

2) Check to make sure others are not using the same brand

Launching your brand without checking others’ rights is risky. If someone else has protected or is using your brand, then your investment in signage, posters, and promotional material could be lost and/ or you could be required to defend a court action against you.

Checking to make sure you can use and register your brand before you launch your product or business is important.

3) The key to patent or design protection is secrecy

If you think you have a new product that could be protected by a patent or design, then do not show the product to anyone unless you have a nondisclosure agreement in place. Disclosure of your patent or design to a third party without a non-disclosure agreement will destroy any novelty in the product and could prevent you from securing patent or design protection.

4) Product is not protected

As with brands, launching your product without checking others’ rights is risky. Even if you do not think you will file any patent or design applications, carrying out a freedom to operate (FTO) search to make sure you can sell your product in a particular market or territory is important.

5) Copyright protection is free

Copyright is a form of IP protection that is free in New Zealand and Australia, and automatically exists in any copyright work created. Protection is best achieved if you ensure you include the © symbol, date, and author of the work on the work when it is created.

6) If you need help, contact an IP advisor

An IP advisor can help you develop an IP strategy that is right for you. A good IP advisor will ensure you invest only where you need to. Obtaining the right advice that fits with your business strategy can help safeguard your business for the future.

Lynell Tuffery Huria is a special counsel trademark advisor at AJ Park.

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