How to Legally Protect your Brand and Business Idea
There’s no feeling quite like coming up with a new idea and turning it into a business. However, before you take your idea out into the world, it’s crucial to legally protect it. This will make sure that you start off on the right foot, and are protected from people copying or stealing your ideas as you enter the next stage. Additionally, legal protection will establish your presence in the market by giving you legitimacy. This article provides helpful tips on how to legally protect your brand and business.
- Protect your Intellectual Property
Before you get started, it’s a good idea to think about what you want to protect. For most new businesses, intellectual property is the biggest thing that needs protection. Intellectual property means any ideas, thoughts and concepts that your mind creates.
Some things that are your “intellectual property” are your:
- Business Name
- Product Design
In Australia, you’re able to protect some of these things through ‘Intellectual Property Rights’. There are patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder’s rights. The two most common are trademarks and patents.
A trademark is something that makes your business stand out from the rest. It can be a letter, name, smell, number, word, phrase, shape, sound, colour, or aspect of packaging or image. Logos, business names and words associated with your business can be trademarked. For example, the word “Bunnings” is a trademark owned by the Bunnings company. This means nobody else can use it in their marketing or on their storefront.
If you’ve got a logo ready to go, or are thinking about making one for your business, then applying for a trademark is really important. It’s a good idea to speak to a trademark lawyer about the registration process, and what trademark classes you should do this in.
Contracting out branding
If you’re getting someone else to create your logo or any aspect of branding for you, you should make sure you own it. You can do this by having a special agreement with them called a trademark deed of assignment, or make sure the contract you have with them has a special trademark assignment clause.
Patents cover devices, substances, methods or processes that are new, inventive or innovative and useful. Things like computer system processes, unique products or business systems are all potentially patentable.
- Get a Non-Disclosure-Agreement (NDA)
A non-disclosure-agreement (also known as a confidentiality agreement) is a written agreement you have with other people or businesses when you do work with them. It makes sure that they don’t share your business information with other parties. Usually people protect all sensitive information.
For example, if you’re working with a PR firm, you would want to ensure they don’t share any confidential information you give them when you’re working together. Another example is where you’re getting your product manufactured. You need to make sure the manufacturer keeps your product design confidential.
- Employment Contracts and Confidentiality
Although National Employment Standards (NES) apply to all employees, an employee contract makes sure your business is protected. Employment contracts usually contain all of the regular information like pay, hours and standards of work. However, you can also include confidentiality clauses and other specific requirements you might want for your business.
- Cease and Desist Letter
Hopefully you won’t get to this stage – but sometimes businesses need to ask another business or person to stop doing a certain action that is harmful. The legal way to do this is to use a cease and desist letter. A cease and desist letter is useful if your intellectual property is being used without your permission, if you’re being harassed and in other similar situations. You should get a lawyer’s help to draft a cease and desist letter to make sure it has the impact you are seeking.
Getting your business off the ground can be challenging. With so many things to think about, the legal stuff can be forgotten. However, this article demonstrates investing in legal protection from the start is extremely important for the future of your business. By protecting your intellectual property and sourcing other important documents, you’ll be on your way with a strong legal foundation.
Lawpath is Australia’s leading provider of online legal services for businesses and individuals, providing technology powered legal solutions at a fraction of the time, cost and complexity of the traditional system. Lawpath’s online platform provides an easy one stop shop for company registrations, legal documents and advice.