Starting a small business? Here’s why you need to protect your intellectual property

- July 24, 2019 3 MIN READ

Perhaps you’ve had a brilliant idea for a business, or you’re just ready to go out on your own. Either way, it’s important to take care of the legal side of things before any issues arise down the track. One area where this is particularly true is intellectual property. Jackie Olling, solicitor and content manager at Lawpath provides her top reasons why protecting your intellectual property should be one of the first things you should do. 

1. You’ll be able to protect your business’s name

One of the first things business owners come up with (after their business idea) is the name for their business. Having a memorable business name is crucial, as it is what your customers will recognise you by. If your business name is unique, or even if it’s a more common name, you’ll want to register it as a trademark. Doing this means that other businesses cannot use this name, and you can focus on building your brand around a name that has legal value.

2. You’ll avoid accidentally infringing someone else’s intellectual property

When registering a trademark or other form of intellectual property, you’ll find out if there are any businesses trading under similar names. This is done by conducting a free trademark search online at the Australian Trademark Search website. Finding this out early on will be better for your business in the long run – so you don’t build your business on a name that’s already registered by someone else. If this happens, your business will risk losing time and money building a brand on a new name after you’ve already established it.

3. You’ll be able to protect your website

The majority of businesses these days have websites, but to do this you first need to register a website domain name. However, domains are not owned by the user forever and often expire after 2 years. Although these domain names can be set up to auto-renew, many business owners miss this if their credit card or contact details change. When your domain name expires, it means that someone else can register it. This can be hugely detrimental for business owners, who may suddenly find that a competitor or cybersquatter has taken ownership of their domain name. In this case, you would have to try and re-purchase your domain name from the new owner (often at a very high price) or have to register a new domain name that may be different to the name of your business. However, if you register your domain name as a trademark, you’ll have an extra layer of protection if your website is ever misused or your domain name compromised.

4. Your brand’s value will increase

There’s a reason why many famous logos or business names have the little ‘R’ symbol inside a circle next to it. This symbol signifies that the logo or name is protected under the law and that the brand carries a certain value. An example of this is Google’s trademark, which is worth $44 billion US and makes up about 27% of its overall value. By assigning value to your brand early on, you’ll be able to build your business on a solid foundation. As your business grows, so will the value of your trademark.

5. You’ll have peace of mind

Having legal protection for your business in the early stages will give you peace of mind in three ways. To start with, you’ll know that you’re not using a name or trademark that’s already registered. In addition to this, you’ll know that you’ll be able to take action through a  lawyer if you find that your intellectual property is being used somewhere else. Finally, you’ll save time, energy and costs if you ever have to take action to protect your intellectual property, as it’s much easier to enforce a registered trademark rather than an unregistered one.

Starting a business involves many things – getting your finances in order, choosing your business structure and developing your business plan to name a few. However, your intellectual property is the basis of your who business itself, so the earlier you protect it – the better for your business in the long run (and one less thing to worry about!).



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