IP in the time of COVID-19

IPONZ and IP Australia employees are all working remotely which means we can still protect your brands, ideas, and designs in these jurisdictions without delay.  The ability to file with offices in other jurisdictions is variable.  However, we receive regular updates from our network of associates around the world so chances are we will be able to supply answers.

Tips for Business

All businesses should conduct an IP audit at least every five years.  Ideally this should involve discussion with an experienced professional, however, right now you could run a “DIY IP Audit”.

Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What is our point of difference in the market?
  • What makes us different from our competitors?
  • How do customers find us?
  • Do people in our business come up with new designs or new ideas about how to do things?
  • Do we have systems in place to capture our new ideas?
  • What are we really good at?
  • Can we apply our skills to any different areas?
  • Are there certain key people we couldn’t do without?
  • What information do we have about our customers?
  • Do we have any formal IP protection in place?
  • Are there IP protections that are no longer relevant to our business and could be dropped?
  • Does our IP protection (especially trade marks) cover all our overseas markets?

It might be a good time to ensure you have captured valuable know-how in your business.  Ask key personnel to document how they do things and set up procedures to document new systems and ideas.  This is useful for succession planning, and reviewing procedures may also highlight efficiency improvements.

At some stage you may also want to check your contracts with employees and/or contractors to ensure that your business owns the relevant IP rights.

When the time is right, we can provide support and assistance in reviewing legal agreements and helping you develop your IP strategy to match your business plan.  Whether that time is now, after the lockdown, or next year, running a DIY Audit can help arm you with the information you need to make the most of this process.

Tips for Individuals

You may have time to work on that idea you have always had in the back of your mind, or do some tinkering in your real or virtual tin shed.

If you come up with a new product or process, it is important to keep it confidential – make sure everyone else in your bubble knows the importance of confidentiality too.  You should seek advice about protection options before the ideal is disclosed or the prototype is used.  However, if you can progress your development towards your commercial product, you may find the best time to protect is a month or two before launch.

The best trade marks are quirky, distinctive, and memorable.  They may cleverly allude to the product on offer, but should not merely describe it.  Choose a few items from around the house and then, as a team brainstorm, how you would market them.  Which features would each person focus on?  Who can come up with the most persuasive marketing spiel?

Did you know board games can be protected by copyright (like the Trivial Pursuit board), trade marks (like Scrabble), and even patents (like Monopoly)?  If you and your bubble develop your own game then think about how you might want to protect it.

Or just enjoy spending time with your bubble and know that the team at Saunders & Co will be here to support your Intellectual Property and other legal needs, now and in the weeks ahead.  Kia kaha.

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