17 April 2024
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How important is protecting your businesses’ intellectual property?

Ben Johnston
10 September 2021

Sure, there is more to the value of a business than just the goodwill, but what makes goodwill so unique to most other assets is that it is intangible. It’s value in many ways is subjective and therefore doing all you can to make sure you validate and protect your businesses goodwill is imperative.

Most, if not all, household brands are protected under trademark however it’s surprising how many smaller businesses fail to protect their IP and it could be costing them thousands if not millions of dollars in the long run. Athletes and entertainers should also be open to trademarking their IP and there had been many well documented cases where failing to protect their IP has been detrimental such as the legal case involving global Pop Star Katy Perry and a local Australian designer over trademark infringement.

Registering trademarks is an excellent way to protect your businesses’ identity from a legal point of view. Trademarks also equally protect brand awareness by ensuring and deterring potential “trademark pirates” or newly formed businesses from deliberately, or naively, using your name, logo or slogan to promote or market their own business, as your trademark will be added to a trademark registry.

In the event of a trademark pirate that deliberately undermines your business using an image very similar to that of your business to deceive the public, or possibly even by registering the trademark of your business before you have had the chance, can be an expensive process to overcome, so the more protection you have in place to alleviate this the better.

Having a trademark registered also solidifies your businesses value by formalising the ownership of your intangible assets. In many new businesses this is extremely important especially as the way we do business has changed. Many new enterprises who use the efficiencies of technology and outsource their supply chains have very little in the way of physical assets. Hence much of their value is attached to their IP, therefore trademarking is imperative to protect this asset, and ensures they achieve the maximum value if they were to sell the business.

The cost to trademark in Australia is around $250 if you do it yourself or around $1,000 if you engage a trademark lawyer. Trademarks are registered in classes so you may need to register your trademark in more than one class to ensure you protect your intellectual property across all the goods and services that your business offers. If your business trades internationally, which many are now doing inadvertently due to the growth of the online marketplace, registering your trademarks in other countries further protects your exposure to piracy or conflicting brands in these foreign markets.

Some tips to protect your business intellectual property:

  • before starting a business always check that the trademark is available for the name, logo and/or slogan you intend to use
  • register a trademark of your name, logo and/or slogan at www.ipaustralia.gov.au
  • registered Australian trademarks grant you a monopoly over the use of your brand in your market segment and are an excellent / cost effective way to protect your business
  • consider registering your trademarks in other countries with which you do business to also protect your brand in those countries
  • discuss trademarking options with a lawyer who specialises in IP law
  • ask your accountant and lawyer about asset protection strategies that may be available to you such as options with different corporate structures for ownership of your trademark
  • Commercialisation: Validly held trademarks grant the owner rights that can open up new revenue streams by way of licence / franchise.
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