Is your intellectual property protected?

18 April, 2013 | Bret Gower

Intellectual property rights are a key asset for any business.

The term “intellectual property” refers the rights available over a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. The most commonly known types of intellectual property (“IP”) include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets, but IP can also include confidential information such as know-how in the business and customer information.

Many business owners fail to realise that a capital investment in protecting their IP is a further investment in the business that can then be licensed, assigned or sold.

Protecting your IP effectively can be fundamental to a businesses success.  However, it can be a balancing act to weigh the cost of protecting and then enforcing your intellectual property rights, against the value or benefit gained for the business.

In a changing, more service-oriented economy, IP is becoming a valuable business asset. Research shows that, on average, up to 80% of the asset value in businesses being sold is now attributable to intangible assets including goodwill, brand value and IP. New products, designs and processes are appearing constantly and the internet provides the opportunity to quickly and efficiently drive business and product awareness at a much greater rate than previously.

The driving forces behind these new products, processes and designs are often small businesses who may not have the financial resources to fully protect their IP from the outset. In fact, it can be almost counter-productive to spend too much of a precious start-up budget fully covering all the IP options when there are certain existing protection strategies that might be better relied upon. Many businesses make the decision to spend their budget to gain market share quickly in preference to formal IP protections such as registrations.

Intellectual property registration [such as trade mark or patent registration] not only records your ownership of the rights to use the IP, it provides you with an exclusive legal right to exploit that right to its maximum commercial potential. Although there may be no determinable value in your business’ intellectual property to begin with, this can change quickly once the business or product gains visibility and recognition amongst customers and in your particular industry.

Whether or not to protect your existing and future IP rights is a commercial decision and there must be a balance between the costs of protecting that position and the potential returns as a result of that protection. By having an IP strategy in place, including whether or not, and/or how to protect your intellectual property, you can concentrate on growing your business knowing the IP decisions are in place. In the event that somebody breaches your IP rights you then have a strategic position to respond to that breach.

To discuss your business’ intellectual property and how it could be protected, or to start forming your IP strategy, contact one of our intellectual property lawyers, by phone on 09 836 0939 or email


Do you need assistance protecting your intellectual property?

Protect your brand – contact our Intellectual Property Law team today to set up an appointment.

email Bret
09 837 6893

About the author

Bret is a key member of the commercial team at Smith and Partners, having joined the firm after a successful career as a design agency owner. Bret’s clients have confidence in him because of his unique combination of down-to-earth communication
Read More »

Related articles

Is your intellectual property protected?

Apr 18, 2013 | Read more »

Trade Mark Enforcement: Important Lessons from Trade Me v NZME

Oct 25, 2018 | Read more »

Understanding Copyright – Do I Need Protection?

Apr 5, 2017 | Read more »

What is a patent?

Dec 14, 2015 | Read more »

Protecting your domain name

Apr 5, 2012 | Read more »