What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual Property

It's early days and already a number of questions have been asked in relation to trademarks and trademark registration. So, I thought I'd write a quick article as a cheat sheet on intellectual property for members.

What is Intellectual Property? 

As the name suggests; it is property created by intellect or the mind. Intellectual property covers many different, more specific 'things', including:

Trademarks: any sign that one trader uses to distinguish their goods/services from others. A 'brand' name or logo are the most common types of trademarks.

Patents: protection granted to devices, methods, processes that are new, inventive and useful. Often a patent can be viewed as a 'solution to a problem' that hasn't been done before.

Designs: protection for the look/appearance of a product - its shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation when it's new and distinct.

Copyright - automatic protection and right to certain works, such as literary works (books, poems, software code), artistic works (paintings, sculptures, photographs) and dramatic works (plays, peformances) amongst other things.

I would consider the above the most common and most likely to exist within your business. If you are a plant breeder then its also possible to register for plant breeders rights for new varieties you have developed, and also possible to protect original circuit layouts you may design.

An Example:

Picture a photocopier. The way this works would fall under a patent; the way it looks under a design; the brand of it under a trademark and its written manual under copyright.

Jacqui Pryor

Director at

I am the director of a company called Mark My Words Trademark Services. I formed this company in November 2011 after working for around 12-13 years as a consultant and paralegal for other companies. I formed this company with a focus on SMEs; to provide trademark registration services at competive costs without jeopardising the quality of the service. I live to the east of Melbourne; on Mt Dandenong, which is a truly beautiful area. The view from my office window looks straight to a forrest!

Anonymous asks
Comments (2)
Anne Miles

Anne Miles, Managing Director at International Creative Services

One thing I could add to this from my experience is that many people assume you need © on their work to claim copyright. This is outdated thinking now and the existence of the work alone is enough to prove it was first and that copyright prevails. There's no restriction to using the © however if you want to. Using ® however is another situation - you must have an approved and registered trademark to be able to use this symbol. Using the ™ symbol is allowed on any trademarks that are pending approval before the ® becomes effective. To go through the registration process it can be over 12 months.

Jacqui Pryor

Jacqui Pryor, Director at

Thanks for commenting Anne. I would still encourage clients use the © symbol, or, some form of copyright notice, as this will let others know immediately that the work is protected. And, believe it or not you can actually use the ™ symbol against any 'sign' you are claiming as your tradeamrk - it doesn't even have to be a pending application! I would at the very least conduct trademark searches before applying the ™ symbol to end branding, just to be sure you're not stepping on any toes... And, yes, the formal process is a long one... it's an absolute minimum of 7.5 months in Australia.