A business surely owns its facility and equipment, unless they are leased. It surely owns its cars, computers, and phones unless they rent them. When it comes to Intellectual Property, the picture could be more precise.
Developed economies have long sought to respect the intangible assets of a single mind, an organisation, or a business. Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, and other processes protect the human mind’s work. And “intellectual property” law opens an umbrella of protection against unauthorised use. What counts as intellectual property for enterprises doing business in Australia?
Intellectual Property Defined
Businesses will own physical assets, including real estate, equipment, inventory, and more. But they also own non-physical assets, including budgets, designs, customer lists, and the like. The law has long respected the business’s ownership with formal and informal assurances.
Global competition depends on international respect for intellectual property protection. Intellectual property belongs to the work’s creator. However, the creator (or team of creators) can contract its ownership to an employer or bequeath the rights to others.
As a member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the Commonwealth of Australia has committed to reciprocal respect for intellectual assets throughout its trade markets. Not all countries respect these agreements.
Books and plays, music compositions and recordings, visual and performance arts, and other creative works secure copyrights to the materials. The copyright gives the creator exclusive rights to the work’s use, publication, and sale unless otherwise sold, shared, or licensed.
A trade secret is a company’s confidential process or practice that is not public information. Instead, it provides an economic benefit or advantage to the company or holder of the trade secret. Trade secrets on products, services, and strategies deliver the financial benefit of the company’s research and development to the owners and shareholders. A business’s competition and future depend on its ability to secure its processes and practices from public access.
Governments will acknowledge a company’s investment in the product of its research and development by granting a Patent. For example, Australians can access information and direction on patents at IP Australia or by working with IP lawyers in Melbourne.
Traditionally, intellectual property law has shielded intangible business assets. Nonetheless, those intangible assets have had some analog presence. Books used paper, music used vinyl, and research produced plans or reports.
However, as businesses have entered “the Digital Age,” those assets do not have an analog reality with which we can deal. For example, extending legal protection to creative products stored in the Cloud seems challenging.
Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) law attempts to sustain the cultural heritage of Australia’s Indigenous Peoples. ICIP extends them the rights to their traditional arts and culture, protecting them from appropriation and misappropriation.
Intellectual Property and Business Futures
Governments strengthen business practices and sustain their future by protecting their intellectual property. Patents, trademarks, copyrights, and the like empower and encourage innovation. They assure global competitive advantage while respecting other nations’ rights to innovative and creative work.
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