Intellectual property rights, by virtue of being rights in relation to intangible property, are often ignored or misunderstood. The creation of an idea or invention gives rise to intellectual property rights which can be assigned or licensed. In most industries intellectual property is created in the course of completing one’s work.
What is intellectual property?
Intellectual property is a creation of the mind and includes inventions, designs, ideas, works of art, literary works, computer programs, logos, trade secrets, processes and know-how. It can arise out of the drafting of a document or the implementation of a system or process for achieving an outcome. It can also arise out of the design of a logo or a software program.
When should I be protecting my intellectual property?
In some cases, intellectual property rights arise as soon as the intellectual property is created. In other cases, you must take steps to register the intellectual property in order to get rights over that property.
Any business should continually consider what intellectual property it has or uses and the ownership of and rights to that property. In particular, businesses should consider intellectual property issues when:
- entering into an employment relationship – consider whether the employee retains ownership in intellectual property which they have created in the course of their employment or it is assigned to the employer;
- entering into a software contract – consider whether the creator of the program retains ownership or a licence to use the program or whether ownership is transferred to the client who commissioned the program;
- when buying or selling a business any intellectual property owned by the business should be considered to confirm whether ownership will fully pass upon the sale;
- entering into a franchise agreement –intellectual property is commonly licensed under a franchise arrangement.
If you require further advice on protecting your intellectual property or you believe that your intellectual property rights are being infringed please contact our office.