Intellectual Property (IP) can be a valuable business asset and it is important that you understand how to manage and protect your IP.

IP comprises of copyright and circuit layout rights as well as patents, trademarks, designs and plant breeder’s rights.

Copyright and circuit layout rights are automatic whereas patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder’s rights must be registered with IP Australia.

LGM Advisors intellectual property lawyers in Melbourne can provide you with strategic and expert legal advice on intellectual property issues including licensing, trade practices litigation and other disputes relating to intellectual property and other legal and commercial litigation.

Copyright

Copyright protection is provided under the Copyright Act 1968. A copyright lawyer can help you protect the exclusive rights that subsist in your copyright material including the right to license copyright to others to copy, perform in public, broadcast, publish or make an adaptation of your work. Copyright subsists in works that are the original expression of an idea but it does not protect the idea itself.

The type of works that are protected by copyright laws include:
• books
• films
• music
• sound recordings
• newspapers
• magazines
• artwork
• computer programs
• databases
• media broadcasts

Circuit Layout

A circuit layout is a two-dimensional representation of the three-dimensional location of electronic components in an integrated circuit. An integrated circuit or chip made from a layout is vital in various types of electronic devices such as personal computers and pacemakers.

An intellectual property lawyer can help you protect your rights as an owner of intellectual property including original circuit layouts including the right to copy the layout, make integrated circuits from the layout and exploit the layout commercially in Australia.

Commercial exploitation of a circuit layout or an integrated circuit made according to the layout includes:
• importation
• sale
• hire
• distribution

Protection continues for 10 years from the time of commercial exploitation, which must in turn occur within 10 years of creation of the layout or from the time that it is made. The maximum possible period of protection for a circuit layout is 20 years.

Patents

A patent is a right granted for a device, substance, method or process that you have invented that is new, inventive and useful when compared with what is already known. As a patent owner you have the exclusive right to commercially exploit your invention. There are various types of patents. A standard patent lasts for up to 20 years whereas an innovation patent lasts for up to 8 years. A pharmaceutical patent lasts up to 25 years.

A patent must be registered with IP Australia to be afforded protection.

Trade Marks

A trade mark is a mark that is used to distinguish your goods and services from your competitors. A trade mark lawyer can help you register and protect your trade mark. A trade mark can be registered in respect of a letter, number, word, phrase, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture and/or aspect of packaging. As an owner your have exclusive rights to commercially use your trade mark or licence your trade mark to someone else.

A trade mark must be registered with IP Australia to be afforded protection.

If you have not registered your trade mark and someone else uses your trademark, you may have an action in passing off or for misleading or deceptive conduct under the Australian Consumer Law (Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth), formerly known as the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth)) and the various State and Territory Fair Trading Acts).

Designs

A design is may be features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation which gives a product a unique appearance and which must be new and distinctive. A design is the overall appearance of the product rather than the mechanics of how it works, which may instead be protected via patent registration. As a registered owner of a design you have the exclusive right to commercially use, licence or sell your design.

An intellectual property lawyer can help you register your design. A design can be registered in Australia, provided it is both:
• ‘new’ – meaning it must not be identical to any design previously disclosed anywhere in the world (including on the internet), nor any design previously used in Australia; and
• ‘distinctive’ – meaning it must not be substantially similar in overall impression to any design previously published anywhere in the world (including on the internet), nor any design previously used in Australia.

If you wish to register your design you must be careful to not publicly disclose it as that may render your design to no longer be considered to be new and distinctive. This may mean that it is no longer eligible for registration.

Plant Breeder’s Rights

Plant Breeder’s Rights are used to protect new varieties of plants that are distinct, uniform and stable. Plant Breeder’s Rights give the owner exclusive rights to commercially use, sell, direct the production, sale and distribution, and receive royalties from the sale of plants.

To speak to a Melbourne intellectual property lawyer contact us on +61 3 9832 0608 or alternatively by email at info@lgmadvisors.com.au.