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How to protect your intellectual property in Australia

If you are an Australian business owner, it is essential that you take steps to protect your intellectual property. From trademarks and patents, to copyright and trade secrets, there are a number of legal measures available to help safeguard your business’s unique assets. In this blog post, we will provide an overview of how you can protect your intellectual property in Australia. Read on to learn more.

April 21, 2023

Let's start by defining what we are talking about: in simple terms, intellectual property, or IP, refers to the creations of a person's mind - these could be designs, inventions, stories or any other original works. 

While some people think that this doesn't directly apply to them, they are wrong - all creative works have an IP attached to them. So if you have ever written a story, taken a great picture or composed a piece of music, then you already own some intellectual property.

Why is Intellectual Property Important

Like we said before, intellectual property is a form of legal protection for intangible creations, such as ideas and knowledge. 

In Australia, intellectual property rights are seen as incredibly valuable for both individuals and businesses alike. They give the creator exclusive rights to things like design, branding and inventions - preventing competitors from copying without permission. And from a big-picture point of view, intellectual property is essential for the growth of the country's economy, giving our own citizens an innovative edge in the global market.

This is why protecting your IP from being used without authorization is vital - making sure you are credited for your work, and it isn't stolen by someone else for their own gain, can make all the difference.

How to licence intellectual property in Australia

Depending on what kind of IP you’re looking to licence, the process can involve a few different steps.

Although it may seem like a lot of information, once you understand the basic principles of how intellectual property is protected, it doesn’t need to be daunting. A qualified lawyer can take much of the stress out of the process - so don’t hesitate to seek professional help with your licensing needs.

Different types of intellectual property protection available in Australia


A trademark can be used to protect any sign or symbol used to indicate the source of goods or services. These signs may include words, logos, shapes, sounds, smells or even colours. A trademark registration can give you exclusive rights over the use of a particular mark and can be enforced against anyone who uses the same or similar marks in relation to their own goods or services. In Australia, trademarks must be registered with IP Australia – the Australian Government’s intellectual property regulator – before they can be protected by law. 


Patents are another type of IP protection available in Australia. Patents are granted for inventions that are both new and inventive, meaning that they must not have been previously known or disclosed anywhere else in the world and must not simply be obvious improvements on existing inventions. Patents generally last for 20 years from the date of filing, giving you exclusive rights over commercialising your invention during this period. To obtain patent protection for an invention in Australia, it must first be registered with IP Australia.  

Design rights

Design rights in Australia are governed by the Designs Act 2003 and are an important legal aspect of protecting intellectual property. These rights help protect a product’s physical features such as shape, configuration and pattern. Design protection includes any aesthetic qualities which distinguish it from others in the marketplace. The scope and duration of these rights depends on the classifications provided by Australian law, from a simple seven-year registration to an extended fifteen-year term for a novel design. It's worth noting that prior versions of the same design must be registered separately, making sure that all updates to your designs are accounted for under the correct protections. With strong design rights in place, businesses can confidently invest time and resources into new products without compromising their originality or exposure to infringement.


Copyright is another form of intellectual property protection which applies automatically when certain types of artistic works (e.g., books, music recordings) are created. It does not need to be registered with IP Australia for it to take effect; however registering your copyright may help if disputes arise later down the track as it provides evidence that you own the work in question. Copyright grants creators exclusive rights over copying their work and other related activities such as making adaptations and publicly performing/communicating it. The duration of copyright protection differs depending on the type of work involved but generally lasts until 70 years after the author’s death (or 50 years after publication if this occurs first). 

Trade Secrets 

Finally, trade secrets provide a way for businesses to protect confidential information such as recipes or formulas which give them an edge over competitors when selling products or services. Trade secrets can include processes which require technical knowledge but also internal documents containing sensitive information about company operations and strategies which would put competitors at a disadvantage if made publically available. Trade secrets remain protected indefinitely so long as reasonable steps are taken by businesses to keep them secret from outsiders (e.g., through non-disclosure agreements).  

How to protect your IP in Australia

Generally speaking, protecting intellectual property in Australia starts with running a check to make sure that the work you’re doing isn’t similar to someone else’s existing intellectual property rights. 

It’s well worth taking some time to speak with an intellectual property lawyer if you need protection of this kind – that way, you can rest easy knowing everything you create is yours alone!

Determine which type of IP protection suits you best

It is important to determine what type of protection is most suitable for your Intellectual Property needs. 

As we mentioned earlier, there are several ways you can protect your intellectual property in Australia. However, the confusing part is knowing when each option applies and how to register and obtain legal protection. 

Getting the right advice is key when making decisions to protect your IP. It is a good idea to talk to a solicitor for help in this area. That way you can make sure everything is done properly, securely registering your IP and preventing potential infringements.

Tips for Making Sure You Are Properly Protected from Idea Theft

Protecting your ideas is an important practice no matter what industry you are working in. If you have an idea that you want to protect, there are a few tips you can keep in mind to help ensure that your intellectual property remains secure. 

  • First, document every time you come up with an idea and register any patents or trademarks. Make sure to have all the paperwork completed by a qualified professional as well. 
  • Additionally, if your ideas are confidential, create non-disclosure agreements for anyone with whom you share them. 
  • Finally, keep track of who has access to the information and make sure any contracts or other materials remain secure. 

With these tips in mind, protecting your intellectual property should be much easier.

What to Do If Someone Infringes on Your Intellectual Property Rights

  • First, you need to make sure that you have a clear understanding of what those rights include. That way you can easily determine whether or not anyone has violated them. 
  • Secondly, contact an attorney who specialises in this area as soon as possible. They will help guide you through the legal process of pursuing any form of financial compensation and getting justice for any violation of your intellectual property rights. 
  • Lastly, make sure to search for any proof that you may have that could be helpful in proving the infringement occurred. 


Protecting intellectual property is essential for any Australian business. Without adequate safeguards in place there is nothing stopping others from taking advantage of what makes your business unique.

By understanding each type of intellectual property protection available (trademarks, patents, copyright, design rights & trade secrets) and taking steps to register them with relevant authorities where applicable (such as IP Australia), you can ensure that your valuable assets remain safe from unauthorised use by third parties now and into the future.

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