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Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of your mind, such as artistic or literary works, brand names, symbols, or designs. Your business may develop different types of IP, including:

IP infringement occurs when another business or individual uses or copies your IP without your permission or knowledge. A business may be using your business name, copying your literary or artistic work, or advertising your designs as their own. As your IP is an important part of brand development and identity, it is essential to check that other businesses do not use your IP.

You may find yourself in a position where your clients or customers have noticed another business using your IP. If another business uses the same or a similar name as you, this may confuse your clients. New clients may also think the other business is yours, resulting in a loss of business. This article will explore how you can conduct initial searches to identify other businesses using your business name or other IP. 

Start By Doing Some Searches

You can conduct some basic research via Google or on social media sites as a starting point. You can search your business name or similar names. If a client has identified another business, you can ask your client to send you a URL, or social media account to assist you in your search for any IP infringement. 

IP Australia is a public database of all registered trade marks, designs, and patents. You can search the relevant databases for:

Someone Is Using My IP, What Should I Do? 

Suppose you do some searches, and determine that another business is using your IP. In that case, there are several steps to take.

Step 1: Confirm That You Own the IP

Before you can stop an infringer from using your IP, you should ensure that you actually own the IP, and that you have intellectual property rights. The best way to protect your business name or logo is by registering a trade mark. A trade mark secures your branding and gives you the exclusive right to use your brand in your relevant industry. Although you can trade without registering a trade mark, it leaves you open to IP infringement. Therefore, we suggest you contact a lawyer to ensure you secure your branding as soon as possible.

If the infringement occurs on the internet, you have certain options. For example, if you have a pending or registered trade mark, you can contact Google or many popular social media companies to report IP infringement. If you can prove you have IP rights, Google will likely remove the infringing content by removing applicable Google ads. The same applies for Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites. 

Where your business has developed a unique product or invention, and you want to protect the overall appearance or its functionality, you should secure this IP before you market the product.

Step 2: Confirm That Infringement Has Occurred

Before you reach out to Google or Facebook to report any IP infringement, you should gather some evidence to prove that the person you are reporting has indeed infringed your IP. You may also consider how long the individual or business has infringed your IP.

Step 3: Engage a Professional

If someone is using your IP without your permission, the best action to take is to seek legal assistance. 

You may try to resolve the matter yourself and consider reaching out to the infringing party yourself. If you decide to do so, you can simply reach out to them, letting them know that they are using your IP and requesting that they stop. The risk with handling the matter yourself is that the other party may:

  • ignore your request; 
  • make a counter-claim that you are infringing their IP;
  • continue to use your IP.

Legal assistance can help prevent these outcomes.

Key Takeaways

If somebody is using your IP without permission, this can harm your business. It may confuse customers and cause you to lose money. Therefore, it is imperative that you take steps to get the infringement to stop.

If you need help with IP infringement, our team at LegalVision would be delighted to assist you as part of our LegalVision membership. Our team of experts will review your matter and advise you of a commercially viable solution. You will have unlimited access to lawyers who can answer your questions and draft and review your documents for a low monthly fee. Call us today on 1300 544 755 or visit our membership page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I still have IP rights if I do not have any registered IP, such as a trade mark?

IP is any unique creation of the mind. Even if you do not have any formal registration or application in place, you still retain IP. However, formal registration is the easiest way to prove you have IP ownership. Having secured IP can save you IP ownership issues in the future.

What is the best way to avoid IP infringement?

Start by doing some research on Google and IP databases. If you have identified another business with a similar name or logo, do not copy it. Your IP should be unique and original.

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