Protect your intellectual property - How to avoid these five start up mistakes

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Last updated on March 4, 2016

The right approach to intellectual property (IP) can protect your profit margins and even provide access to new revenue streams or finance. Equally, a lack of careful IP planning can lead to high costs with no prospect of return. Avoiding some common IP-related mistakes can make a real difference to your business's long-term success.


1. Not recognising that you have an idea to protect

Australian business creates new products and processes every day. Not everyone realises that even a small change to a product may constitute an invention. If it provides a commercial advantage, it should be protected.

2. Not recognising that patents, trademarks and designs can put money in your pocket

If a new idea is making money, competitors will look to imitate that success. IP protection prevents low-cost imitators. Without it, having the lowest price can become the major point of competition.

Remember, a patent, trade mark or design is an asset which can be licensed or sold to third parties, or used to help secure finance.

3. Disclosing your idea before filing for IP protection

The race to get a product to the marketplace may cause your idea to be publically disclosed before a patent or design application can be filed. For the sake of a two week delay, you can preserve your potential IP rights at home and overseas.

4. Confusing your ambition with your capability

It's easy to believe that your hard-won invention will be a long-term, global market-changer and must be protected. Truth is, many inventions confer little or only short-term advantage. Make sure that you're not wasting money on IP protection for inventions or in countries that you do not have the capacity to exploit.

5. Re-inventing the wheel

Why sink valuable dollars into research and development on problems that are already solved? There is an incredible amount of innovative technology that is searchable online, using services like Google Patents. Patent applications are public and must provide technical information that skilled people can use. When the patent term has expired or lapsed, the technology is there for anyone to use. Equally, many overseas patents are never filed in Australia, so the technology is free to use inside our borders.

Many patent and trademark attorneys can provide a free consultation to help you identify what IP you may use, or what could be valuable to protect and how. You can find a patent attorney through the Institute of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys of Australia.

Paul Davis portrait 

Paul Davis, Principal and Head of Engineering at Fisher Adams Kelly, is a Fellow of the Institute of Patent and Trade Marks Attorneys, with 20 years of experience working with intellectual property in the field of manufacturing and engineering.

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