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IP Guide for Small Business Owners

Intellectual Property Lawyers

As a small business owner, you might think that intellectual property is one of those things only the big corporations have to worry about. But that’s really not the case. Intellectual Property is valuable to any business regardless of its size or industry. It can help protect your innovations and set your products or services apart from competitors, and create a strong brand identity. It can also be another source of revenue if you license it or sell it to others.

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The different types of IP for Small Businesses

IP is a broad term that covers various types of creations of the mind that have commercial value. There are four main types of IP that are relevant for small businesses:


    • Patents: These are what give inventors the sole right to use, make, or sell their product for a limited time (usually 20 years). They can protect any invention from software and biotech to machinery and electronics. Patents will give you an edge in the market and prevent others from making a carbon copy of your masterpiece.

    • Trademarks: This is how you distinguish yourself from everyone else. It can be anything like words, logos, shapes, even smells. You build a reputation and brand identity with it. On top of that it stops other people from using something similar enough to mislead others.

    • Designs: This is pretty straightforward but still important. It protects the way your product looks. The shape, pattern, color— if it’s visual then it’s protected under designs. In addition to looking nice, this can also make functionality more attractive to customers. And as usual this prevents people from producing or importing things that look like your project.

    • Copyrights: It protects how you express ideas on tangible forms, such as music in films or words on paper. Copyrights Lawyers enable you to control how these works are reproduced, distributed, communicated, or adapted by others. It even allows you to get money out of someone who tries to exploit your work commercially

How to Avoid IP Infringement and Resolve IP Disputes

As a small business owner, one of the many challenges you face is managing your IP. It’s difficult to avoid infringing on the rights of others and dealing with disputes that arise from violations. Doing so can lead to some serious consequences that include injunctions, damages, penalties, or even criminal charges. This makes it extremely important for you to practice preventative measures and enforce your rights instead of violating others.

Avoiding IP Infringement


    • Before either using or registering an IP, perform a clearance search to see if it’s already being used. This will keep you from breaking any existing rights that others have. Simply check the availability and legitimacy of the IP you want to use. You can also consult an IP professional. For example, a business lawyer who specializes in business law, especially in Sydney.

    • Always aim to create original content for your advertisements, marketing materials, and website. If you ever use someone else’s content without their permission or license, you could get in a lot of trouble. If you must use another party’s content then make sure you credit them.

    • You’ll probably need some licenses from the IP owners if you want to use their stuff for your own business purposes. For example, if you want to copy something that has a patent or trademark on it, then there are specific steps you need to take. You should contact the IP holder first and negotiate a license agreement with them.

    • Don’t be afraid to respect other people’s trade secrets and confidential information. Trust is established by parties agreeing not to disclose information that provides an economic advantage and is not publicly available. Should they decide to share confidential information with you like a partner or contractor did, make sure both parties are under a non-disclosure agreement that defines all limitations and obligations.

Dispute Resolution


    • Resolution: You should try to reach a resolution with the other party that satisfies both of you. You have a few options here. Ask them to stop using your IP, and maybe offer an apology or correction if you infringed on their intellectual property. Another thing you could do is come to an agreement by letting them use your IP but they’ll have to pay up or license it so that they can keep using it.

    • ADR: ADR, or alternative dispute resolution, is one way you can solve this issue. With this approach, you’ll get a third neutral party such as a mediator or arbitrator to help resolve things for you without having to resort to legal action like going to court. ADR has its advantages in being faster, cheaper, and more flexible than litigation. And it also helps keep good business relations with the other party involved since no one’s suing anyone. WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center is a great option for international disputes that offers free and quick ADR services.

    • Legal Notice: If none of the above work out then taking legal action might be your last resort. You can file a lawsuit against them or defend yourself from theirs in court. This path will be long and expensive so before doing anything rash make sure that the benefits will outweigh the costs.


IP is a vital asset for small business owners who want to succeed in a dynamic and competitive market. With your IP, you can protect things that make you innovative, differentiate your products and services, and create a strong brand identity. If you want, you also have the option to sell or license it to others. However, managing IP as a small business owner can be daunting and tiring. On one hand you must identify and protect your IP assets while avoiding infringement on others. And when disputes arise you need to resolve them all while being aware of the legal frameworks governing IP in countries where you operate or plan to operate.


What are IP rights for entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs have the right to protect their copyrighted materials, patents, designs, and trademarks with something called Intellectual Property (IP). This legal protection allows creators to get credit from their creations. They can also benefit without someone else using it without permission.

What cannot be protected under IP rights?

There’s a few things that IP rights doesn’t cover. Concepts, methods in abstract form, or ideas. Specific application and tangible expression or an idea is the only thing that can get protected. For example a written manuscript or prototype. General knowledge and facts aren’t protected either.

What is the duration of intellectual property rights?

The length of time differs based on what kind of IP we’re talking about. Trademarks last forever as long as they’re in use and registration is renewed. Copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years for most works. And patents are typically good for 20 years since filing.

How can I prevent IP violation?

To prevent IP violations you have to make sure your assets are registered properly with the right authorities. Regularly enforce your rights and monitor them too. Make sure everyone on your team understands how important IP is. If you want to go even further consider using technological measures like digital rights management to protect digital content.