What sorts of intellectual property rights might an employer have?
Intellectual property can be your most significant asset – your commercial advantage over competitors in the marketplace.
As an employer, you can take steps to protect your intellectual property from misuse by employees and third parties.
Intellectual property rights can include:
- Copyright over original literary, dramatic, artistic or musical works and films, sound recordings, broadcasts and performances that have been expressed in a material or tangible form.
- Trademarks for names and logos that distinguish a company’s goods and services from those of other businesses.
- Design rights over the distinctive appearance of the product.
- Patents over inventions.
Copyright arises automatically as soon as the original work is expressed in a material or tangible form. While trademarks, design rights and patents only exist after they have been registered at IP Australia.
How can intellectual property protection assist the profitability of a business?
Intellectual property rights can help a business by:
- Providing it with long-lasting monopoly rights over certain products that are enforceable against everybody.
- Help businesses to maintain a unique brand by protecting logos or other marketing elements.
- Provide a commercial opportunity for small businesses to make profits through licensing agreements.
- Provide an income stream through royalties.
Who owns intellectual property generated by employees?
Generally, an employer will hold the copyright of literary, dramatic, artistic or musical works made by employees in the course of their employment. An employer will also be able to register a design created by an employee during the course of his or her employment.
An employer may not, however, be able to get a trademark or patent over an original work created by an employee.
It’s a good idea for employers to include intellectual property provisions in all employment contracts. These provisions should automatically assign all intellectual property rights to original works created by employees during the course of their employment. It is also a good idea to include a clause that obliges employees to cooperate with the employer in the registration process.
We can assist you with your IP needs
We can help you make the most of your company’s intellectual property by:
- Drafting clauses in employment contracts that will ensure your company owns any intellectual property created by employees during their employment.
- Drafting clauses in employment contracts that prevent employees from misusing your company’s intellectual property and confidential information.
- Assisting you with breaches of your intellectual property rights in a commercially sensible way.
- Setting up workplace policies and processes to ensure your company has evidence of its ownership of intellectual property.
Please get in touch to discover how our solicitors can help you to protect your company’s intellectual property.