Manufacturers are used in all industries, from consumer goods to technical equipment and electronic devices to textiles. A large number of businesses engage manufacturers, as they have the facilities available to manufacture the goods they need at a large scale. It is important for businesses to consider how a manufacturer is using their IP and what strategies they can use to protect it throughout the process.

Legal Due Diligence

It is not touched upon enough, but due diligence is an important aspect of not only choosing the right manufacturer but also in assessing to what extent they can protect your IP. For example, you can analyse the way the manufacturer conducts business with third parties, including suppliers or employees in order to determine the extent of access third parties have to a client’s IP. Based on this, you can determine if information is freely shared within the organisation and if your IP could be exposed to risk of external parties using your IP commercially. Another practical strategy may be to speak to and get feedback from the current clients of the manufacturer. They can provide insight on the manufacturer’s services and whether their IP has remained protected. It may also be of benefit to search whether or not the manufacturer has been involved in any disputes relating to IP.

Manufacturing Agreement

A Manufacturing Agreement is an important tool to secure your IP. It is common for the agreement to protect not only the design or mould of the good that you want manufactured, but also the process and materials that are part of the manufacturing process. The clauses in the Manufacturing Agreement that will help protect your IP will relate to confidential information, moral rights, licensing and ownership.

Manufacturers often use third parties in order to provide their manufacturing services. This may include internal employees, contractors, suppliers or other providers such as those that provide delivery or storage services. A business can use a Manufacturing Agreement to place certain obligations on the manufacturer in their dealing with these third parties in order to ensure that IP is protected or not disclosed unless necessary.

Design or Patent Registration

If a design is particularly unique or the device, substance or method you have produced is new, inventive, and useful, you may be able to register your design or patent rights with IP Australia. There is a specific threshold you would need to meet to register a design or patent, so it is important to speak to a qualified patent attorney or design attorney who can advise you on whether or not this option is possible. If you meet the criteria for registering a design or patent, you would be able to protect your IP before it is disclosed or licensed to a manufacturer.

Conclusion

The protection of your IP is important in providing you with a competitive advantage in the marketplace, as it may assist in preventing competitors from producing the same goods. We have a qualified team of commercial lawyers, including a patent attorney who can assist in protecting your IP when it comes to dealing with manufacturers. Before you engage a manufacturer, contact LegalVision to talk about the manufacturing process and the ways you can protect your IP!

Lachlan McKnight

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