Last updated: 
4 February 2021

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Intellectual property (IP) is the property of your mind or proprietary knowledge. It is a productive new idea you create. This can be an invention, trade mark, design, brand or even the application of your idea.

Your idea must be something new or original, but determining whether your idea is new or not is not always easy.

Applying for an IP right to protect your idea can be critical if you want to build a business and establish your presence in a market.

As stated by Craig Venter, a geneticist and one of the first scientists to sequence the human genome, 'intellectual property is a key aspect for economic development.'

Beware of publicity in the early days

If you are considering a patent or a design right, be aware of publicity.

In today’s digital world, it is important to not publish your patent or design until your ownership has been confirmed. This means not tweeting about it, not putting it on Facebook, and not writing about it in trade journals. In short, keep your idea out of the public domain.

Publishing your idea in any form may jeopardise your ability to claim a patent or design right before you even apply.

That being said, we know that sometimes it is necessary to share sensitive information. In these cases, it is prudent to use a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to protect yourself. Check out our IP Contract Generator.

Different IP rights and Copyright

Some forms of IP require formal application and examination before you can claim a right to ownership. Others do not.

There are some rights that we don't administer. Copyright is a separate form of intellectual property which does not require registration. Copyright and circuit layout rights are administered by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications and they assist the Government in developing and managing copyright policy in the Copyright Act 1968 and Circuits Layouts Act 1989. Business names, company names and domain names are not types of IP.

We administer patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder’s rights in Australia.

Before you apply for any IP rights, it is important to understand the differences between the four main rights and which one suits your idea.

You can use our website to help you develop a strategy for your IP or employ an attorney or qualified person. Ultimately though, you are the keeper of your IP.