How to protect your intellectual property

You can keep a competitive advantage by protecting your intellectual property (IP). Imagine if a competitor discovered your secret and started replicating it. Or, you shared your idea and then realised too late that you had lost the legal right to make it exclusively yours.

The key is not to talk about your idea or make your IP public knowledge before you have protected it.

Make sure you:

Register your IP

You may need to consider more than one type of IP protection depending on your creation.

Keep your idea a secret

Do not promote or disclose your idea to other people.

If you need to involve other people ensure they sign a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement.

TIP: Have the agreement signed, dated and witnessed.

Demonstrate that the idea is yours

Keep all records and documentation of your idea.

Do not use someone else’s IP

Protection may not be available if your idea is similar to one that is already covered.

Search data on existing patents, trademarks and designs.

Include IP clauses in contracts

When employees create original works as part of their job the copyright will usually belong to the employer. It is good practice to include clauses regarding IP and confidentiality in employment contracts.

If you engage contractors in your business, make sure their contract outlines an agreement as to how copyright will be assigned.

For example, if you engage a photographer to take photos for use on your website, it is important to confirm who will retain copyright ownership. If ownership remains with the photographer the images can be used or sold to other people.

More information

► Learn more about how to protect your IP