Establishing a business based on Intellectual Property

When starting a new business or developing a business idea involving intellectual property it is vital to protect the products of your hard work and knowledge. The first step is to determine what needs protecting, and then to determine how best to protect it.

Intellectual property is an important asset which is capable of being bought or sold and may add substantial value to a business.

There are different protections available, depending on the type of intellectual property in question.


Copyright protects works that are artistic in nature. This includes texts, images and music. There is no system of registration for copyright under Australian Law. Instead these works are automatically covered by copyright under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) and lasts for 70 years after the death of the creator.


Patents are often used to protect inventions whilst trademarks are utilised to ensure protection of logos, trading names and slogans. Both patents and trademarks must be registered with IP Australia. These protect the originality of the creation and provide the owner with the right to exclusively make, use, hire or sell the intellectual property.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets include valuable and unique commercial information which is kept confidential during the course of business. Such information is generally protected by contract and the equitable jurisdiction of the Court. It is important to include appropriate terms in commercial and employment agreements to ensure confidentiality and to avoid your business secrets being disclosed to competitors.

It can be difficult to determine the combinations of protection suitable to the intellectual property owned by your business, and inadequate protection could seriously reduce the value and viability of your business. The information above is a general overview and it is important to seek relevant legal advice in order to assist you in your decisions. For more information or advice on this information please contact the Commercial Team at or on 9525 8688.