Law & Protecting a Business


What is Intellectual Property (or IP)?
Intellectual Property, (also abbreviated as IP), is property that is created with intellect. You may have developed a design or written a manual or created a program. While it is not a property you can buy and sell, it is nevertheless an asset to the business.

Although you cannot always physically touch it – nevertheless it has great value and contributes to generating profit.

The intellectual property can be an invention, or a system, a design, or simply a good idea that has been noted down. Most people think of intellectual property as patents, trademarks and copyrights but the value to the business of this IP is when it is used in the operational strategies of the business for marketing and business development.

Identify and Protect Your IP
Every business should carefully identify and record the IP assets that their business develops. Employees, who are in paid employment, develop a lot of the IP in a business. The IP is not necessarily there at the start of the business, because the majority of IP will be part of what the business works on.

For example, if your company is developing business software and your staff is employed in the various stages of that development, even if the software is sold to generate income in its own right, there exists a right of ownership to that intellectual property. It is the company’s intellectual property and it is valuable. It must be protected.

Types of Intellectual Property

Intellectual property will include the following:

  1. Copyright.
    This protects the artistic and literary works including drawings, computer software, programs, manuals, books, proposals etc. There is no need to arrange any registration for this protection because copyright protection is automatic and doesn’t have to be applied for. Copyright protects the material form of an idea, but not the idea itself.

    Once an idea has been written down or tape-recorded, copyright immediately applies to prevent another person copying that written or taped work. Copyright extends to all works and also to sound recordings, films, radio, television and video broadcasts, as well as published editions of other work.

  2. Patents.
    These involve the protection of inventions and products or processes. The advantage of a patent is that it gives the patentee (the person who holds it) a monopoly in the invention. No other person can make, use or sell it without the approval of the patentee, even though he or she may not have knowingly copied the patentee's invention or may not have intended to make use of it

  3. Trademarks.
    A trademark will protect symbols, shapes, logos, pictures, words, numbers or a combination of all these. Anything that distinguishes your company or your products and services from that of your competitors. To obtain the registration a Trademark must be capable of distinguishing the applicant's goods and services from those of other people. Registration of a Trademark prevents another person using a Trademark, which is identical or deceptively similar to that Trademark in the course of trade.

  4. Trade Secrets.
    This involves the protection of knowledge including expertise and confidential know-how. The protection afforded by this action may be of considerable significance when persons are engaged in discussions with a view to the development or exploitation of the process. If an employer wishes to protect business secrets or confidential information, the employer should have the employee sign a confidentiality agreement before the commencement of employment

  5. Registered Designs.
    A person who proposes to apply a new and original design to articles or goods may seek registration of that design. This protects the shape or appearance of your goods but does not protect its function. A total monopoly is then given to the registered proprietor of the design and other persons are not permitted to make any goods bearing that design or constructed in accordance with the design during the time of the registration

  6. Domain Names.
    You can arrange protection of your domain name by registering it so that it is allocated to you alone. A continuing fee applies to have a domain name allocated to your company.

  7. Rights under Common Law.
    This protects you from imitations, or those who would pass off what they have as belonging to them when it is your property.

  8. Various Rights
    For Plant Varieties, Electronic Circuits and Designs etc