Top 5 Intellectual Property Blunders
As Patent and Trade Mark attorneys, it’s common for us to encounter businesses and individuals who have wrestled with difficulties that may not have occurred, had they chosen the right course of action.
Here’s a list of top 5 intellectual property mistakes.
1) Failure to search for existing trade marks
Far too often, we see those who have decided on a great new name for their new venture or product, overlook one of the most important stages of business development; searching the existing trade mark database to ensure that your magnificent and innovative name hasn’t already been taken by someone else. Names are of fundamental importance to every business and product, but if you settle for one that violates an existing trade mark, you may ultimately end up having to replace the name with something completely different.
This may occur only a short time after you’ve established your business or at worst, years after the business has been in operation, meaning that all your tireless hours and investment into helping brand grow and flourish will be impacted. Beyond this, you may also be liable to pay additional fines according to the amount that was earned during your operation under the already trade marked name.
2) Failure to register a trade mark
There are certain names that are not eligible to become a trade mark, such as those that describe a general product or service that your business offers. For those that do qualify as a trade mark however, it’s a good idea to register them because:
- It will safeguard your business from a competitor attempting to register an identical or closely related name and requesting you to modify yours, which can be a costly and nasty procedure.
- A successful registration is a way of ensuring that your trade mark doesn’t encroach on other existing trade marks.
3) Failure to search for existing patents
If you discover that your innovative new product or service is already guarded by someone else’s patent, you can easily find yourself falling into the trap of investing an excessive money and man hours into growing your brand, only to realise that releasing your innovations to the public could result in a lawsuit or require you to first acquire authorisation (usually in the form a license) from the existing patent holders.
There are many different sites available online that enable you to freely search through current patent databases. Simply Google ‘patent search’.
4) Revealing the new product prior to applying for a patent
The laws pertaining to patents in many regions around the globe are stringent, requiring the application to be processed prior to any public announcement of the product. This could for instance include the publishing of information concerning the yet-to-be-released item on the social media, for example.
Always be sure to apply for a patent before announcing it publicly. Failure to do so may result in others stealing your idea and trade marking your own idea with impunity.
5) Failure to adhere to IP matters concerning contract jobs
In most cases, intellectual property for works that have been contracted out to individuals is owned by that individual, rather than the business or entity that has employed them to complete the work. Therefore, if you employ somebody to create a sign for your new business, they will have ownership rights. Likewise, if you seek the services of an external company to help transform your design into a feasible product, then those specific design processes will belong to them.
Whenever requesting an external party to design something for you, it’s essential that you obtain full ownership rights of that work to avoid any potential legal troubles from arising down the track. The easiest and most effective way to do this is to have both you and the subcontractor sign an official agreement prior to the start of any work.
Brand violation is a phrase that is commonly used in intellectual property circles, typically with a certain degree of ambiguity and discrepancy. It’s a generic term that indicates an effort to take advantage of the good name of an existing company for the purpose of financial gain, individual benefit or to ruin said company’s good standing.
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