Guest Article (Cooper IP)

Intangible assets currently account for about 90% of the S&P 500’s market value (compared with about 17% in 1975). Intangible assets are abstract in nature and include value derived from intellectual property, R&D and brand reputation.

Many of today’s thriving businesses safeguard their intellectual property (IP) to remain competitive. Indeed, a 2020 Report produced by IP Australia found that “Australian businesses that own any of the three types of IP rights [patents, trade marks and designs], especially those with multiple types of IP rights, are more likely to perform better in terms of profitability…than businesses that do not own any IP rights”.

Melbourne Patent Attorneys and Trade Mark Attorneys

Cooper IP is an Australian patent and trade marks attorney firm that helps SMEs across Melbourne and Tasmania protect their IP. In this guest post, Michael Cooper shares the following insights to help Australian SMEs capitalise on their IP.

Patent protection

Patents are legal rights that protect technological innovations. Businesses that invest in R&D and produce new products and processes can secure exclusive rights over their developments via patent protection. Armed with a patent, businesses have the exclusive right to make, sell, license and otherwise exploit their inventions.

Confirm your patent attorney’s technical background. The patent application process involves filing documents that detail the functionality of your invention. Patent attorneys all have degrees in engineering and/or scientific disciplines, and it is vital to engage the right attorney so they appreciate the intricacies of your invention.

Confidentiality is key. To secure valid patent protection, an invention must be new over what is already in the public domain. As such, before applying for patent protection, ensure the invention is a well-kept secret. Rest assured that disclosures of your invention to an Australian patent attorney are regarded as confidential.

Design protection

Registered designs protect the appearance of products. These exclusive design rights are perfect for products that aren’t necessarily new inventions but have a distinctive aesthetic appearance.

When filing a design application, it is good practice to file black and white line drawings of the product as seen from various views. To increase the scope of protection, a broad product name can be chosen and certain visual features can be shown and/or claimed as being optional – your patent attorney can advise you on how to best protect your product via the design application process. Again, confidentiality is key.

Trade mark protection

Trade marks refer to signs that indicate to consumers the commercial origin of goods and services. These “marks of trade” often come in the form of brand names and logos, but can also be colours, shapes and sounds (e.g., a computer start-up sound).

Distinctiveness is king. Great trade marks usually don’t describe the associated goods and/or services. Indeed, many well-known trade marks have nothing to do with the associated goods and services (e.g., APPLE, IKEA, QANTAS).In contrast, highly descriptive trade marks are difficult to protect and customers may have a harder time finding your business online since competitors would be free to use similarly descriptive trade marks.

Beware of trade mark infringement. Going through the trade mark application process is useful because it can help identify potential infringement risks. For example, if a competitor has already registered a similar trade mark for related goods/services, use of your trade mark may infringe their trade mark registration.

A business name won’t cut it. Successfully registering a business name, domain name and/or company name does not give you exclusive rights for that name. Only a registered trade mark provides you with exclusive trade mark rights.

Looking for an IP Attorney?

Prevention is better than cure. This rings true in the world of IP – it is often much simpler and more cost-effective to be proactive and seek advice early. It is often too late (and more expensive) to seek advice only after an IP issue has arisen.

Free IP consultations. Many IP firms, including Cooper IP, provide free consultations so they can point you in the right direction. Feel free to book a consultation with Cooper IP here.