Trade Marks and copyright enjoy legal protection. But did you know that other intellectual property (IP), such as highly confidential information that is part of your unique edge and essential to the running of your business, may also be protected? There is court-based law that will generally protect valuable confidential information.
As leading intellectual property lawyers based in Melbourne, PCL Lawyers can help you safeguard your intellectual property (IP) to prevent them from being used against you in an unlawful or unethical manner.
Brands of all sizes need protection. Developing a business and a brand takes considerable time and hard work. It is important to protect this hard work with the right intellectual property protections to prevent competitors from profiting off your hard work by imitating and copying your valuable brand.
Copyright – Copyright does not need to be applied for in Australia.
Confidential Information – this is information that is special valuable and, as the name implies, therefore explicitly or impliedly confidential and not to be made known to those outside an organisation to whom the confidential information belongs.
Trade Marks – A Trade Mark is to protect your rights to a unique product or service. Logos, scents, colours, words, business names. phrases and more can be Trademarked.
Patents – Patents are generally handled by a Patent Attorney.
Designs – Design registration is different from Patents in that it protects a product and the way it looks in shape, pattern, configuration and ornamentation.
Examples of documents that deal with & help protect intellectual property are:
Confidentiality Agreements – Agreements can be drafted to protect you in discussions and initial stages when discussing your confidential information with third-parties. These can be included in Employment Agreements.
Joint Venture Agreements – If you are considering Joint Venturing with other companies or individuals you should have the appropriate confidentiality clauses and ownership of IP clearly outlined.
Contracts – We can draft Contracts to suit your business relationships so that the Ownership of Intellectual Property is never disputed.
Employment Agreements – It is highly likely that an infringement of copyright or trade secrets will be by an existing or former employee. It is important that employment agreements are correctly drafted to ensure that theft or misuse of your businesses IP is prevented.
Contractor Agreements – Similar to confidentiality agreements a contractor is not an employee and an additional layer of protection for your business is required when dealing with sensitive and confidential information. This is of utmost importance when dealing with product development and IT infrastructure you must ensure that you remain the legal owner of your processes, materials and ideas.
It is important that your business keeps such confidential information secret from all except those who ‘need-to-know’. While Australian law does not give the same importance to an action for ‘breach of trust’ as some overseas jurisdictions, trade secrets are protectable with appropriate documentation. In fact, much of the work that an IP lawyer undertakes in the area of intellectual property involves the protection of trade secrets or other information which is not protectable by other statutory means.
A common example is where an employee of a company, who has undertaken in an employment contract not to breach the confidence of the employer by disclosing certain information such a trade secret, subsequently does so. Such breaches can cause irreparable damage to your company’s culture, brand, and profit. An intellectual property lawyer, however, will ensure you have sufficient grounds to seek legal action by helping you register trade marks, write licensing agreements or apply for patents – whatever is necessary for your intellectual property to be legally recognised as yours.
If you have had a breach of confidence committed against you and you want to consider enforcing your legal rights contact one of our intellectual property lawyers today. Getting the right legal advice is crucial to a fast resolution.
Trade Marks and other sensitive and unique intellectual property is a valuable asset for any business.
Our trade mark and copyright lawyers can assist with:
Our law firm has substantial experience in complex breach of trade mark, copyright and confidential information disputes and litigation.
Our lawyers regularly act for those whose intellectual property has been taken or misused as well as those who have been accused these matters.
If you own a registered trade mark, you will generally have strong enforcement rights. This will mean that you will be able to demand that the infringing party ceases and desists using your mark/s. You will also be able to demand that the infringing party pays you damages or their profits derived from the unauthorised use of your registered trade marks. This is done initially by carefully drafted, detailed correspondence by an intellectual property lawyer and, where necessary, litigation. Such litigation may also include asking the Court to order an injunction so as to restrain the offending party from behaving using your mark/s.
You will then look to rely on the tort of passing off, which is a common law protection against someone masquerading to be another business by using a name or logo that is too similar to that of a pre-existing business.
If you have been accused of breaching someone else’s intellectual property our intellectual property lawyers can assist in advising you and getting a swift resolution.
You may be asked to simply stop and change parts of your business or products and/or you may be asked to pay compensation.
The first way you may become aware of infringing someone’s IP is if you receive a cease and desist letter from their lawyer.
If you have been accused of infringing IP it does not necessarily mean that you have to comply with their demands, and you may in fact have not infringed their IP at all.
We will look to see if the claim is viable (and quite often, despite the strong nature of the correspondence that makes the allegations, the claim is not viable) and also look to minimise the exposure you have as some demands come with demands for compensation. Our experienced Intellectual property lawyers will also ensure that you are not agreeing to and undertaking with terms and conditions that are unreasonable and that could end up preventing you from trading and missing out on business you may have established.
Either way you should be sure of your legal position before you respond to such demands or accusations. You may be paying money you aren’t required to or complying to unreasonable demands.
Trademarks are unique “signs” that enable consumers to identify and distinguish the goods and services of one owner from the goods and services of a competitor. A sign can be a name, slogan, sound, letters, word/s, numbers, colour, symbol, scent or a combination of these elements.
A trade mark can help establish and build your reputation in the market.
Examples of Trade Marks:
1. The golden arch symbol used by McDonalds
2. The Nike tick symbol
3. The purple colour used by Cadbury
4. The shape of the Coco-cola bottle
Often confused for each other, trademarks and copyright are two different types of intellectual property. This is demonstrated in the laws and the type of assets they protect. It is therefore important to distinguish between the two to ensure you are obtaining the right IP protection for your IP assets.
A trademark is a sign used to exclusively identify one brand’s products and services from another. Trademarks are typically names and logos but can also be symbols or sounds (jingles). In Australia, trade marks can be registered with IP Australia in accordance to the Trade Marks Act. Once registered, the owner of the trade mark has exclusive rights to use, sell, licence and prevent others from using the trade mark. This protection lasts for 10 years with the option to renew.
Copyright is legally a enforceable IP right that protect the creator of an original work such as literary works (e.g. textbooks, poems and books), dramatic works (e.g. choreography, scripts and screenplays) and artistic works. Copyright does not protect concepts and ideas, only the way you originally express the idea. For example, a person may have an idea for a film. This idea is not protected by copyright, but the script of the film is protected.
In contrast to trade marks, there is no system to register for copyright under Australian law. Instead, copyright protection is established automatically upon creation of the work. For most works, this protection is enforceable for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years after the end of the year in which the author died.