Steps to Ensure Your Business Idea is Legally Protected

protect your intellectual property

As a budding entrepreneur, there is absolutely no doubt that you have a great idea or two floating around in your head that you can’t wait to put into motion. After doing all your due diligence, researching the competition and your target audience, and securing financing, you’ve come a long way and want to ensure your business has the very highest chance of success. This is exactly why it’s so important to take things further and ask yourself if you’ve done all you can to ensure your idea, product, service, or design is legally protected.

In Australia, as well as basically any other country, it’s common to read stories from businesses that are going through legal actions pertaining to intellectual property infringement. These can be very difficult cases to prove, they can be drawn out, and they are expensive. Plus, at the end of the day, there is no guarantee you’ll win your case. Instead, it makes sense to follow all the right steps from the start and protect your idea.

So, let’s take a look at the steps necessary to legally protect your business idea as well as some handy general advice.

Start with a List of Things You Want to Protect

A great place to start the process of protecting your business idea is to go ahead and make a detailed list of all the things that make your company unique and that you want to protect. This can include such things as a product design, your logo, the service you offer, the process you use, and so forth. You’ll want to be as specific as noting the colours, shapes, and even the design of your products.

Southern Cross University has some advice for taking the steps to protect your business idea. They suggest visiting the IP Australia website to learn about the types of IP. This will provide you with information on what can be protected, which will help you figure out what should go on your list.

By putting everything down on paper and storing it, you’ll also be creating a paper trail of your thought process and the timing. This can come in handy later on should you run into a problem with intellectual property being stolen.

Research the Different Categories Ideas and Products Will Fall Into

There are a few different areas that your business ideas will fall into in terms of how you can go about protecting them. These are copyrights, designs, trademarks, and patents. While they may sound interchangeable, in reality, each one is unique and needs to be applied correctly.

A copyright provides legal rights that are exclusive to you, the creator. These rights are given to original work such as paintings, films, music, or writing. Once you have the copyright, it also gives you the ability to control, sell, and license the work.

The design refers to the physical design of the item or product.

Then there are trademarks, which are typically used for jingles, logos, product packaging, etc.

Finally, there is a patent, which provides you with the exclusive license to make, use, and sell the product. The patent has a time limit on it, which can be up to 20 years in Australia.

Don’t Broadcast All Your Plans and Details

It’s also wise if you hold back a bit when it comes to talking about your idea/product, advertising it, and sharing information. Until you have taken the steps to legally protect it, your idea could be taken by someone else. Many recommend having your employees sign a confidentiality agreement that prohibits them from talking about your product, designs, process, etc. with any other party. Again, it’s just smart business steps to take.

Think About Your Business Growth

Remember that protecting your business idea isn’t just going to help your business to launch and be successful.  It’s also about protecting your future growth. If your competitors are able to steal your ideas, it’s going to make growth incredibly difficult. You need to be thinking about now and the future.

Paving the Road to Success with Your Business Idea

By using these tips, you’ll be taking all the necessary steps to legally protect your business idea and designs to ensure that they can’t be stolen from you and your livelihood can’t be taken away. As an entrepreneur, it’s up to you to think about all the potential challenges and hurdles that a start-up can face.  And having intellectual property stolen is no exception.

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