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What is Intellectual Property?

Building with blue sky what is intellectual property

Intellectual Property is something that has been created with your own intelligence (within your mind).

Intellectual property can remain within your mind, or it can be recorded or released in some way. Recording / releasing can be by means of  writing it down, filming it, painting it, saying it, photographing it, etc. - this is a way to show others what is in your mind.

Commercialisation and Protection

Intellectual property that you have created is something that you should be able to commercialise with confidence. There are rights and laws in place that allow you to be able to commercialise your intellectual property without risk of someone else commercialising it.

In Australia, this is covered by the following areas:

 - Patents, which cover inventions (how they work and function). Patents can be of varying types including Standard Patents (which can either be Provisional or Complete - equivalent to the American Utility Patent), Innovation Patents, or Divisional Patents. The length of a patent coverage depends on the type of patent, where Standard gives 20 years, and Innovation gives 8 years protection. If the patent applies to certain pharmaceuticals, this can be extended a further 5 years. More detail about the differing types of patents will be covered in another article!

 - Trade Marks, which can cover logos, words and characters, colours, phrases, sounds, smells, shapes, pictures - or any combinations of these to identify particular goods or services. The protection for Trade Marks lasts 10 years, and can be renewed for 10 year periods indefinitely. More on this in another article.

 - Registered Designs, (equivalent to the American 'design Patent') which covers the visual appearance (only) of a design. The design itself can be registered for 5 - 10 years, depending on if you renew it. There is plenty of crossover with copyright here, so you need to be sure what your design is covered under! More on registered designs in another article soon.

 - Plant Breeders Rights, which cover new plant varieties and crops. This does not protect the process or products, just the plant variety. Duration for this protection lasts for a period up to 20 years after the date of the grant. More on this in another article soon.

 - Copyright, which covers 'works', which can include (inter alia): written works (such as books), audio-visual works (such as films), audio works (such as music and recordings), visual works (such as visual arts), and architectural design. Duration of copyright typically lasts 50 years plus the life of the Author. There are no registration requirements for copyright - they are automatically applied to you! More on Copyright will be covered in another article.

 - Circuit Layouts, which are similar in protection style to copyright, covers the schematic layouts for circuits and circuit boards. The protection for this varies on whether it has been commercially exploited, but typically it lasts 10 years. More on this in another article.

 - Other (including Trade Secrets and Confidential Information). This is typically not protected unless you do the protecting, so if you have something kept secret - make sure it stays secret! Once it has been disclosed, there is potential for it to be lost forever. More on this in a later article.

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