Protecting intellectual property
You’ve worked hard creating your business, right?
It’s taken a lot of thinking and overthinking and discussion with besties and mentors to refine your business idea and to come up with that perfect business name. Right?
Have you considered that your business name and logo are business assets and you need to protect them from someone else who might have thought of using the same or similar name?
It happens. ALL THE TIME.
Your business name, logo, or product name make up your brand and your brand is the most important asset in your business – the intellectual property you need to protect.
2 key things you need to remember about protecting your intellectual property
- Is your business name really yours?
- Is your brand protected in your contracts and terms and conditions?
Let’s deal with your business name first.
When you set up a business, you register a business name. Usually, you have given the business name a lot of thought and lo and behold, your application to register your business is approved.
Well, guess what? You may have successfully registered a business name – but you don’t own your business name unless you own the trademark for that name or logo.
Not owning your business name is a problem because your business name is your brand and your brand is your business. And your business pays your bills and builds your future.
How do you make sure your business name is secure (that you indeed own it)?
You need to make sure that your business name is not already trademarked by another business. If your business name or a similar name is trademarked, you cannot use that business name. If you do, you are in breach of the trademark owner’s intellectual property rights.
You need to find another business name.
After you have determined your business name is free and suitable for trademark registration, consider registering a trademark. It’s an investment in your brand and protection for the future of your business.
Establish common law ownership
If you decide to wait a while before trademarking AFTER checking with IP Australia that your chosen business name is available, you can establish common law ownership of your name to prove prior use. This is done by demonstrating a history of use of your business name, logo, or hashtag on your branding, including your:
- social media posts
- and all your marketing and communications generally
Regardless of your decision to register a trademark for your chosen business name and/or logo, you need to protect your brand and business. Do this with properly drafted contracts and business terms for your business that include how you want your intellectual property (i.e. your brand and its components) managed by clients, suppliers, contractors, and anyone else you do business with or for.
Your business terms and contracts:
- declare your ownership of the intellectual property (registered trademark or common law ownership) rights in your business name and branding,
- and explain the conditions of use and consequences of misuse
Staying silent on the subject is not a recommended business strategy.
Need help to get this sorted? Lets chat.
Lawyer, Contract Specialist, Speaker & Advocate for Women in Business.
Drawing on more than 15 years’ experience as a lawyer and a woman in business, Shalini Nandan-Singh helps Australian service-based entrepreneurs protect their businesses and their bottom lines with empowered legal advice and contracts.
Encouraging listeners to #loveyourlegals, Shalini firmly believes that business legals should be an authentic extension of your business. Her goal is to educate audiences that, rather than confusing legalese, business legals should be an authentic extension of your business, creating positive business boundaries that support you in working with your clients with compassion and understanding.
Disclaimer: This blog is written to support business owners to consider legal requirements and issues that may arise in business. The information provided is for general and educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice for your individual circumstances. Please consult your lawyer for advice specific to you and your business.