Your ideas are vital to your business, and it’s critically important to have control over your intellectual property. So how can you protect your ideas? Here are 5 key steps:

1. Copyright

The Copyright Act 1968 protects the original expression of ideas, rather than just an idea itself.

Once you express your idea, e.g. in art, words, film or an image, it has copyright protection. Copyright protection does not need to be registered or applied for.

You should use a copyright notice to help identify your ownership over your work. A copyright notice has the copyright symbol, creator name and year of creation, e.g. © LegalVision 2014

2. Confidentiality Agreement

A good Confidentiality Agreement sets out what information you are providing and what purpose you are providing it for.  It covers that the recipient cannot use it or disclose it, including using it to copy your ideas, compete with you, poach your staff or interfere with your supply relationships.

3. Trademark

A trademark is a way of protecting your brand, e.g. a brand name or a logo. Trademarking gives you protection under intellectual property law and gives you rights to prevents competitors from using your trade marks in your area.  Trademarks are done through IP Australia.

4. Licensing and Legal Agreements

If you own copyright in a work, and/or a trademark, you can license it.  You can have a license agreement to set out how the other person can use the work or trademark, or you can have a larger legal agreement that includes a section on licensing.  For example, the owner of a trademarked clothing brand can have a manufacturing agreement with a section on licensing a manufacturer to make clothes with the brand on it.

5. Use

The more you use your idea, the more likely you can be known for it, and the harder it is for a competitor to catch up. Your website, marketing, social media, blogging and sales will help you be known as the owner of this idea.


It is crucial to adequately protect your original works. A business lawyer can help you protect your interests.

Do you have any questions about protecting your ideas? Ask Ursula in the comments!