This transcript is for the video Dream Shield - Top 5 Tips.

So you want to start a business?

Got a great idea.

You've even got a plan.

But if your work is amazing, then people may want to copy it.

How do make sure all your creativity doesn't go down the drain?

Welcome to the world of Intellectual Property, or IP for short.

So what makes you different from the competition?

It might be your creativity, brand, an invention, or a unique design.

Chances are, you can protect those things against copycats.

But it can be tricky. Let's start with the basics:

There's many different types of IP:

Patents for inventions, Trade Marks for brands, Designs for the way a products looks, Plant breeders rights and Copyright for things like art, music and books.

Now, anyone can copy your idea for a business - like being the first Aboriginal tour company in your town. Unfortunately there's no IP protection for that.

We've all heard of artists who've had their work copied without permission.

What can be done?

It important to understand which IP right applies and how it works.

For example, with artistic works, copyright law applies.

It's best practice to put a copyright notice on your work.

Copyright is an automatic right. You don't have to register it or pay anyone a fee if it's your work.

For every other type of IP, you need to apply with IP Australia.

A lot of new businesses make expensive mistakes with their IP. So here are the top 5 things you need to know:

The important thing is that IP is not just for big business.

For example, if you protect your invention with a patent, you've got a bargaining chip with the big end of town.

It's a lot easier to do deals, get funding and get your business growing, so number 5 - Size doesn't matter.

OK, so you've got that great invention or a new design. It's so awesome, you just want to tell everyone about it.

Well don' least until you've thought about protecting your IP. True, you can use your trade mark without registration, but that has risks we'll get to later.

If you want to patent your invention or register a design then you must keep it a secret until you've put in an application with IP Australia.

Why? Because patents and designs must be totally new. If you tell everyone about it, it's not 'new' and you're likely to forfeit your rights.

So at Number 4, avoid what's known as publicity traps - keep it a secret!

IP rights are great on paper, but they must be enforced and it's up to you to enforce it.

If you don't act like you own it, you may lose it.

If someone is copying your work then get legal advice. Usually writing to them about your IP rights is a good place to start.

So Number 3 rule -The important thing is to take responsibility.

But what if you don't bother with registering your IP? Some fellas never register their trade mark and get away with it.

But only relying on a business name to protect your brand may get you into trouble.

Business names and registered trade marks are completely different.

Only a registered trade mark gives proper protection and ownership of your brand.

Don't learn the hard way. You could be forced to remove your advertising and signage if your brand is similar to someone else's registered trade mark.

So at Number 2 - Trade marks and business names are not the same thing.

To sum up: think about your IP before you start advertising or selling your work.

Or sharing your great ideas with friends, customers, suppliers or agents.

IP is too important to be an afterthought.

And that's the Number 1 tip for starting your business: When it comes to IP, start early.

If you want more information visit IP Australia's website, or watch the Dream Shield videos on our YouTube Channel.

Last updated: 
Wednesday, April 6, 2016