Tonight I am super stoked to be shining the spotlight on the gorgeous Clare Mould from Progressive Legal. I am fortunate in that in my job, I meet lots of other awesome business owners - I find there's no shortage of things to get excited about and inspired by. I've got to say though, when I came across Progressive Legal and the awesome things they are doing in the SME/entrepreneur space, I felt like jumping for joy. I connected with the founder of Progressive Legal, Ian Aldridge, via LinkedIn a while back, and unlike many of the connections I have on LinkedIn he touched base with me to chat over the phone. Which was great - Ian and I got on swimmingly and realised that we had both been at the New Beginnings Fair as exhibitors in Sydney last year. Hearing about Progressive Legal's vision and their revolutionary product Legal Shield, designed specifically for entrepreneurs and small business, I was thrilled and knew I wanted to spread the word far and wide. I had also heard wonderful things about Ian's Senior Lawyer Clare, based here in Perth, but had never met her. Similarly when Clare & I connected over coffee, I felt like high fiving her (and maybe I actually did...)! Clare is so approachable and friendly and dynamic, and the perfect fit for the Progressive Legal brand. Do yourselves a favour and if you're not familiar with these guys, you need to be. Clare has written a VERY relevant blog piece for us tonight and I can't wait for you to read it. Read more from these very exciting trailblazers below x
What you need to know about protecting your intellectual property
The protection of your business and your hard work is of paramount importance to any business owner. After all, when you’ve spent so much time and energy building your brand, expanding your knowledge, testing and developing a product or service, seeing someone else taking advantage of your hard work is heartbreaking!
As an intellectual property (IP) lawyer, I often get distress calls from clients saying one (or more) of the following:
· “someone has stolen my idea!”,
· “a customer told me that she’s seen someone using a business name similar to mine!” or
· “someone else is using my content!”.
IP is one of the most talked about topics in business today, yet one of the least understood. So, what is it? In essence, IP consists of products of the human mind and creativity that are protected by law. IP rights are like any other property right and often hold great economic value. Like tangible property, IP can be bought, sold and rented.
IP is often the single most important asset of a business. This is why you need to know about it.
1. Know your IP
Types of IP include:
· Trade marks
A trade mark is a way of identifying a unique product or service. A good trade mark distinguishes your business from others.
A trade mark is not just ‘a logo’. It can be a letter, number, word, phrase, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture, movement, aspect of packaging or combination of these. It can also be a hashtag!
If you’ve created a device, substance or method, you may need a patent.
In order to register a patent, you need to prove that your device, substance or method is new and inventive (not obvious).
Registering the design of your product will protect its unique visual appearance.
The Copyright Act 1968 (Copyright Act) gives an inherent right to protect any content that you create.
No, you don’t need to use the © to take advantage of the protection afforded under the Copyright Act.
2. Use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
I’m always alarmed by how many people haven’t executed an NDA when discussing commercially sensitive, confidential information about their business with third parties.
A carefully drafted NDA is extremely effective in protecting your IP and gives you legal rights against anyone infringing it.
If you don’t want someone to steal your idea, do not tell them about it without having them sign an NDA. This is almost always my advice regardless of whether that someone is a stranger or a friend who you trust. Take emotion out of it and protect your business.
3. If you’ve landed on a business name, logo or tag line - trade mark it!
A common misconception is that when you register a business name, a domain name or even social media handles, you have exclusive rights to use such name or “mark”. This isn’t true. Just because you have registered a business/company name or use a mark to represent your business, doesn’t necessarily mean that you own the IP in such mark.
Generally, I always recommend trade marking anything that is emblematic of your brand. Used as a shield or a sword, a trade mark can be one of your most valuable marketing tools.
For only $330 per class of business (IP Australia government charges), trade marks are one of the most cost effective ways of putting Australia (or the world if you seek an international trade mark application) on notice that you own the IP in your chosen mark.
4. Know that you have inherent IP rights in content that you publish
The Copyright Act protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic content. Copyright does not protect ideas or information as such, but rather only the original expression of ideas or information.
Copyright protection is granted automatically from the time an original work is created.
Note, though, that there are exceptions to the Copyright Act so before you seek to enforce your rights against a potential infringer, seek legal advice to make sure that you have a leg to stand on.
5. Appreciate the power of a cease and desist letter
If someone is infringing (or is about to infringe) your IP rights, a cease and desist letter acts as a formal request to them to cease the infringing activities.
A cease and desist letter essentially says, “Stop what you are doing, or face the consequences in Court”.
It’s important that these letters are carefully structured and cover all aspects of your claim. It is important that you seek legal advice before sending one.
Now that you have the information, it’s up to you to decide what the protection of your business is worth to you. At Progressive Legal, we understand that speaking with a lawyer can be a daunting prospect, but I can promise you that we’re different. We don’t start a meter when the phone rings, or bill in six minute blocks.
We understand small business – because we are one ourselves!
If you have any questions about your IP or would like advice what more you can do to protect your IP rights, I’d love to chat with you.
Do you have any special offers you'd like to share with The Spotlight Series readers?
Offer – free trade mark application for anyone who signs up to Legal Shield +3 via http://www.progressivelegal.com.au/become-a-member/
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