Australia: Forget physical property: it's now all about ideas and intellectual property

Ruslan Kogan, new addition to the BRW Rich List with an estimated wealth of $315 million was recently quoted in an Australia Financial Review article saying:

"In the past it was all about physical property, who owns the land, what capital gains are there on the land, how much money you could borrow from the bank. Now all it takes is an idea, securing your intellectual property and creating a digital product that enhances lives."

This sage advice from the man behind one of the fastest growing companies in Australia, is a timely reminder of steps all tech and intellectual property based companies should be taking to protect their greatest assets.


Early action is often required to secure your rights over an intellectual property ('IP') asset. Delay can be fatal to registration applications. Registered IP assets provide you, the 'creator', with exclusive rights of use and control. However, they are restricted in both their duration and scope to balance the incentives to innovate with the need for competition. For example, standard patents last for 20 years and designs for 10 years while trade marks can remain in force indefinitely provided renewal fees are paid.

The difference between business names, company names and trade marks should be established. While a registered trade mark will give the owner proprietary rights in the asset, a company name or business name will not. If you have a registered trade mark legal action can be taken for infringement of your trade mark if the business name owner uses it for goods and services covered by your registration.

An invention cannot be registered as a patent unless it is completely original, which essentially means it cannot be publically displayed or disclosed before registration. Registration of a patent allows the owner to stop others from manufacturing, copying and/or selling the device or process. If you are interested in obtaining a patent, you will need to maintain its secrecy until the application for registration has been lodged.


Often the most important source of IP assets will be your employees, contractors and suppliers. Use of the appropriate employment contracts and independent contractor agreements can confirm that your business owns all of the IP created by your employees and by contractors while they are working for you.

Your agreements with your suppliers should establish that those supplier associated IP assets belong to you (this may be as simple as copyright in a document), or are shared between the two businesses. A situation where service suppliers can own ideas created due to their access to your business should be avoided.


Licensing to another party can be an effective way to exploit your IP assets whilst retaining ownership at the same time, particularly if you do not possess the resources or experience to develop and market your product or service. Licensing arrangements are particularly common for copyright, patents, designs and trade marks, but almost any type of IP can be licensed. There are several different types of license arrangements that can be established. Seek advice from an experienced IP advisor to determine the best option for your business.


Disclosure of confidential information without any agreement requiring the recipient to keep the information confidential may have the effect of putting the disclosed information into the public domain, therefore allowing anyone to use your IP.

If your business regularly deals with commercially sensitive or confidential information and needs to disclose all or some of this information to third parties, be sure to use appropriate non-disclosure agreements to confirm the proprietary nature of your information and impose limits on its use by the recipient.

Always remember, having control over who has access to your confidential information is paramount - if disclosure isn't necessary, don't share the information.


The market can be notified of your rights to your IP assets through the use of functional commercial agreements and disclosures on your web pages and in your other company documents. The use of IP asset symbols such as TM or © is advised but should not be relied upon.

Proactive use of IP asset protection allows you to build value in your business and enables you to fend off unfair competition from third parties who want to share dishonestly in your success. Always keep up-to-date accurate records of the creation process of the IP asset, evidence of ownership and contracts with all parties involved in the process.

If you have acquired an IP asset, make sure you have the appropriate assignment documentation establishing a clear 'chain of title' and your rights to the asset.

Be vigilant and take active steps to prevent others stealing your IP. Keep an eye on your competitors' marketing and promotional activities. If their activities appear to contravene your IP rights, act quickly - consult your IP advisor and notify the offender of your rights to the IP asset.


As your business and brand grows and evolves, so should your IP portfolio. A regular review/audit of your IP assets, and the classes/description of those IP assets, will ensure your key brands are, and remain, registered and up to date.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Peter Karcher
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.