As a business owner, it is imperative when marketing your products and services that you don’t inadvertently infringe on someone else’s intellectual property (IP) rights. It can be tricky understanding what is considered to be infringement so we have provided a helpful guide below to prevent you from making this mistake.
Knowing your IP
Knowing what IP is and how it applies to your business is the first step to understanding how you can avoid infringing someone else’s. IP can include things that you have formally registered such as patents, designs, trademarks. It can also cover knowledge and know-how that is specific to your business such as formulas, policies and customer lists. Our article found here details different forms of IP and how you can protect them.
Think about what you have registered as part of your business’s IP. Is everything up to date? Have you complied with renewing your registrations? For example, patents have different terms of registration before you need to renew them depending on the type of patent it is. Trademarks, on the other hand, can be renewed at 10-year intervals. Make sure you keep a record of everything that you have registered, the renewal dates and everything you have permission to use from outside sources. This way you can protect yourself from any accusations of not having the correct permissions from source material.
It is also a good idea to make sure your employees understand your IP rights and have the ability to keep accurate records of the information they have used in any work for your business. Making them feel comfortable about bringing to your attention any possible contraventions of another’s IP will make things easier for you to rectify if a breach does occur.
When you hire others to complete work for your business you need to be mindful that the rights they have in that material, such as websites or logos, do not automatically pass over to you as the business owner. If you use this material in ways not agreed to by this person, you could be infringing their IP without completely understanding how. Drawing up a clear contract stating that these rights will pass over to you is the best way to protect yourself later on.
Before you start promoting your business, undertake a search of existing IP so you can check whether your logo or business name has already been taken or is too similar to someone else’s. The same thing goes for any products or other material you wish to create for your business. Investigating what’s already out there will protect you from being reckless to any infringements you might otherwise take part in.
IP is a difficult and complex area of law. There are many issues to consider to avoid infringing someone’s IP, particularly if your business also uses online marketplaces and social media. It is wise to seek legal advice from an expert IP lawyer if you believe you have infringed another’s IP rights or if you need help understanding your rights and responsibilities as a business owner. Contact LegalVision today on 1300 544 755 to speak to one of our specialist IP lawyers about your matter.