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How to protect your business with intellectual property

'I would make sure you have something of quality to protect, so think about using a professional graphic designer.'
Seren Ozdemir, LS Design

Top tips

  • Make sure your idea is creative and unique before you go through the process
  • If you're willing to do a lot of research, you can do it yourself. Otherwise use an IP lawyer
  • Be prepared to spend time and money: Seren's application took nine months. There were also application and approval fees.

LS Jewellery, the journey of an idea

Like the journey to Istanbul that inspired the Turkish-born Australian to create LS Jewellery, Seren Ozdemir has embarked on an adventure researching and exclusively trademarking her logo.

She is also close to trademarking her unique packaging with shape trademarks through IP Australia. Each piece is packaged in a test tube or petri dish to preserve the jewellery and to represent the connection between art, science and love.

IP Australia administers the system for rights to most types of intellectual property. Intellectual property is developing something new or original and can include trademarks, patents, copyright, design rights and domain names.

Seren says the main reasons a business might consider protecting an idea like she has done are:
  • excluding potential competitors from using your idea
  • adding value to your business by having the sustainable competitive advantage.

'Owning trademarks can also add equity and value to your business should you choose to resell it in the future (trademarks last 10 years before renewal) so that's always an advantage too!'

Steps to successfully protecting your idea

Seren has a business degree so was a bit more familiar with the process she might have to undertake. Although her background helped her with some terminology and knowing which questions to ask, she feels it is within reach for business owners to go through the process themselves if they are well informed and do a lot of research.

The key steps she suggests are:

1. Decide you want to protect your idea

'I was nervous that competitors might be able to use my packaging concept. I had a lot of faith behind the LS brand and it's one key thing that I am competing on, so it was important to me to research how to protect it.'

2. Ensure your idea is worth protecting

'I believe the creative execution is intertwined with intellectual property. I would make sure you have something of quality to protect so think about using a professional graphic designer for example.'

3. Make the right choice about which protection you need

'I did go and do a lot of research myself. For example I checked the Australian Trade Mark Online Search System to see if the trademark I wanted to use was already in use.'

Another option is using a lawyer who specialises in intellectual property to take you through the process if your needs are complex and you have the financial capacity.

Avoiding possible pitfalls

Seren says there are some tips to consider if you decide to pursue protecting an idea, such as being:

  • prepared to provide very specific details, including how you can prove unambiguously the idea is yours
  • aware of the geographic extent of your protection (in her case this is Australia which could be an issue for an online global retailer)
  • clear that it does require an investment in time and money.

The result

'I was not surprised by the amount of time it took (nine months for my case) but I was surprised there was an approval fee once your protection is accepted, in addition to the application fee,' Seren said.