With the recent news that Australia has undertaken a deal with China over cyber security and today being ‘World Intellectual Property Day’ we thought we would give you a quick overview and some tips from a Digital Agency perspective.
Intellectual Property (IP) in Australia is defined by the Federal Government as the property of your mind or proprietary knowledge. It is a productive new idea you create. This can be an invention, trade mark, design, brand or even the application of your idea. It’s a broad term that is used to classify innovative ideas.
Types of intellectual property include:
As we know all too well, the legislation doesn’t keep the pace of innovation. Due to the digital age increasing at such a rapid rate we also see intellectual property issues increase. You need to be the one prepared to protect your own property.
1. Do your research.
Knowing what is your intellectual property and what isn’t is very important. In the same respect, while this is the first time you’ve thought of the idea there 7 billion other people on this world and you might not be the only person to think it. Take the time to research your idea and think of the alternatives to your product that are already offered in the market.
Another thing to check is if the name is registered already. Do you want to go global? You will need to check the international patents on the product names, ideas and concepts. Here you will also need to consider the translation barriers that you face.
If you have any idea of patents you know how expensive they can be. Doing your research early will avoid any shocks you might have when registering your intellectual property.
The Australia Government offers sites and services to assist in checking if your ideas are unique.
2. Don’t publish online until it’s confirmed.
Placing an “idea” on Facebook to gauge public interest is an excellent strategy, but it is also very dangerous. While digital marketing principles will always encourage you to be on-trend and in the moment giving away your thoughts about new products, processes or services, this will also allow other people to steal them, and profit from your knowledge. Social media channels do not cover you in regards to intellectual property, they should not be used to replace user testing for a product that you have not introduced to the market yet.
3. Use Employee Contracts to Protect IP
Employees are your greatest asset, and your biggest liability. Ensure that all employment contracts contain a clause regarding your business' intellectual property.
An employer owns any intellectual property that an employee creates in the course of their employment unless stated otherwise. Employees also have a duty to act in their company’s best interests and not misuse confidential information gained in the course of employment.
4. Get a non-disclosure agreement
This is a very cheap and effective way to protect your IP in the early stages, especially when talking to Designers, Developers, Agencies, or Offshore organisations. We would suggest to get legal advise as to the contents of the agreement to protect your intellectual property as much as possible.
5. Contract a reputable agency
When working with a digital agency you need to clarify that the work is yours and cannot be used for other clients. Agencies should not be making copies of one thing to sell at a cheaper rate to other clients. You can cover yourself by asking for a comprehensive scope of works (SOW) to be created before the project is started. Once both parties are happy with this SOW you have clearly defined lines of what is your property, what is the agency's and what IP is utilised from a 3rd party.
We regularly see clients that have paid for innovative ideas or features to be built into 3rd party themes and applications only later to find out that the theme owner is now making this feature available to all their clients. We also see clients who are looking to reduce the costs of a project find out that in doing so means that they do not own the IP.
Understand what platform you are using. Customising proprietary systems are tricky as you may own your customisations, however they are useless with out the system so you don’t own or have control of anything.
The information in this blog is only high-level and should not be considered to be comprehensive, as we’ve said, you need to do your own research. Just understanding the rules and where you fit in is a giant step forward. Do not continue with your ideas unless you know you have the funds to copywrite them. If you have any questions about your digital endeavours and where you fit into all this contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org