Intellectual Property

What is intellectual property or IP?

Intellectual Property (IP) represents the property of your mind or intellect. If you develop a new product, service, process or idea it belongs to you and is therefore your intellectual property. If you want to ensure exclusive legal ownership, you must formally register your IP.

IP can be a valuable business asset so it's important that you understand and know how to protect it.

Types of IP protection

There are seven types of IP protection available for your idea:

  • Patents
    For new or improved products or processes;
  • Trade marks
    For letters, words, phrases, sounds, smells, shapes, logos, pictures, aspects of packaging or a combination of these, to distinguish the goods and services of one trader from those of another; Read more...
  • Designs
    For the shape or appearance of manufactured goods;
  • Copyright
    For original material in literary, artistic, dramatic or musical works, films, broadcasts, multimedia and computer programs; Read more...
  • Circuit layout rights
    For the three-dimensional configuration of electronic circuits in integrated circuit products or layout designs; Read more...
  • Plant breeder's rights
    For new plant varieties;
  • Confidentiality/trade secrets
    Including know-how and other confidential or proprietary information.

Back to top

IP Australia

You can register your patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeders rights with IP Australia.

It's also important to note that registering your IP rights provides coverage in Australia only. You must apply for international protection separately, and in each country where you want your intellectual property to be protected.

Learn about intellectual property and how it applies to you and your business on the IP Australia website

IP Australia eServices
eServices is a secure, reliable and convenient way to access a range of IP Australia's transactions and services. With eServices you are able to view your history; apply, renew or amend your application; save or resume a current eService and make payments.

Other options to apply and pay

If you do not use eServices, the IP Australia website forms page provides downloadable PDFs of all their forms (in alphabetical order).

You can also submit your applications by:

  • Fax to +61 2 6283 7999
  • Post to PO Box 200 WODEN ACT 2606
  • Lodging at an IP Lodgement Point

TIP: If you want exclusive rights / ownership over a particular name you will need to trademark it. The process of registering a business, company or domain name does not give your proprietary rights to the name.

Back to top

Strategies to protect your intellectual property

Once you have identified your intellectual property you should develop strategies to protect your rights. Failing to do so could put your business at risk.

In addition to registering your IP there are some general protective measures you should take to safeguard your idea before it is registered. Read more...

Back to top

Can I take legal action if someone ‘steals' my IP?

Legal action can be taken under common law for infringement of trade secrets, passing off, breaching confidentiality agreements and infringing the rights of owners of both registered and non registered IP.

Enforcement of IP rights is the responsibility of the owner of the IP. Legal advice on whether or not to pursue infringement of rights should be weighed against the likelihood of the success taking legal actions and the costs involved.

Back to top

For more information talk to:

Back to top

What's next...

Back to top

Related Information


Our free Business Basics workshop will guide you through all the steps involved with establishing and running your own business.