Intellectual Property (IP) is the term that describes a creation of content born from our minds. It might include patents, inventions, copyrights, brands, ideas and inventions. And, like anything worth something, there are always folks out there trying to ride on your coattails or occasionally just downright steal your ideas.
Protecting and managing Intellectual Property is critical when establishing a presence on the market and is often the difference between failure and success.
Many people are confused, or simply misinformed, about what exactly Intellectual Property is and how it’s used. Because of this, we’ve compiled an easy to understand summary of intellectual property and what it means to creators, audiences, investors and just about everyone else.
An example of this type of ownership might be if someone were to work at an advertising firm and they came up with a fantastic slogan for a shampoo. There is a good chance that person doesn’t own the slogan because of a contract signed, relinquishing their intellectual property to the company.
Ownership of IP comes down to you being able to show you are the ‘creator’ or ‘author’. Keep in mind that this ownership is pretty much always open to a challenge in court from other parties who believe they possess the rights to a piece of work. Because of this, it is important that those investing in IP understand the potential risks and manage these through secure contracts.
The best way to protect ownership is by understanding the law through agreements and warranties within standard IP contracts. Always read through the contract yourself and pass it on to a lawyer before signing away the rights to your hard work.
IP rights can be used for commercial advantage and are negotiable. Just like anything else, these rights can generally be bought, licensed, sold, given away or made public.
How individuals license or sell IP comes down to your business and negotiation skills. Know how much you and your work are worth. If you don’t, you may be signing away your best stuff for pittance. As a word to the wise, if someone wants to purchase something off you but keep telling you it’s really not worth anything, you have to question, just why exactly do they want it so bad?
Let’s be clear. Intellectual property rights are territorial. This means they are individually dealt in each territory you intend to trade. For example, a trademark, patent or design granted in Australia isn’t automatically granted in other countries.
Copyright is the only IP right recognised in the global market. Every other forms of IP needs to be specifically approved and assessed in each country you intend to conduct business in. If you have intentions to market a service or product overseas, it’s essential you plan carefully and understand the different various IP protection laws. There are many different costs and time implications in each country that are vital to know.
Finally, the point of Intellectual Property rights is to reward and encourage innovation. Owners are given the advantage to take control of their creations and because of this, competitors are limited.
I sincerely feel the IP will become a growing concern for business owners in 2014 and 2015. Particularly as businesses become more digitalised and data becomes an increasingly important commodity, the possibility of a your IP being breached, leaked and/or stolen by a rogue employee (or hacker) is at an all time high. We’ll be writing on this more but have a look at my 2014 cyber crime predictions post from earlier in the year to find out about what you as a business need to be looking out for.