Imagine if someone found out what the Colonel’s 11 secret herbs and spices were...
Luckily the exact recipe remains unknown, but if it wasn’t properly protected then someone could crack the code and start frying up their own not-so-original recipe.
This is just one example of the massive value carried by a business’s intellectual property and the importance of ring fencing brands, trades secrets and great business ideas before they make it big.
And it’s just as important for small setups as it is for industry leaders like the Colonel.
So how do you do it?
Stop Talking About It
First of all stop telling everyone your great business idea before it’s protected because there’s very little to stop them running off and replicating it later that day.
But remember there’s also a chance you’re running around with someone else’s idea yourself, so jump onto IP Australia and do a quick search to see if you’ve been beaten to it.
If it really is a new idea you’ve got, wire your mouth shut and set about getting your IP registered.
There are seven types of IP protection available - patents, trademarks, plant breeders rights, registered designs, copyright, circuit layout rights and confidentiality or trade secrets. Sometimes more than one is necessary to fully protect your idea.
IP Australia has a great portal to help choose the right IP protection for you, so be sure to check it out here.
But don’t dust your hands after a visit to IP Australia. Once you’ve registered your property there are additional steps you should take to ensure it remains safe and sound.
Demonstrate The Idea
Even once registered it’s still important to document when and where the idea first sprouted and the features that make it unique. This strengthens your case should anyone challenge the originality of it.
Draw pictures, take photos, write it all out in minute detail and then date it, sign it, get it witnessed and file it away. Some people even post it to themselves and leave the letter sealed to really dispel any dating doubts.
Use Confidentiality Agreements
Whenever discussing the idea with anyone be sure to get a confidentiality agreement or non-disclosure agreement signed with them. This effectively swears them to secrecy.
These are standard business documents so don’t be shy pulling one out before you talk with anyone. And make sure it’s signed, dated and ideally witnessed in your presence.
Following these steps will ensure any finger lickin’ good ideas you have don’t get gobbled up by others.