So you’ve got a new idea or initiative that’s worth protecting. There are many legal ways to protect it. But what is the best intellectual property right for you?

You’ve probably heard about patents and trade marks. And perhaps you know about trade secrets and copyright too. Which one should you choose?

Let’s back up a bit. If it’s a new brand, you need to consider trade mark protection. Boom! Job done.

If it’s a product or process, it’s more complicated. First you need to ask, is it new? No? Than there may be little that can be protected, other than the trade mark you use.

If it is a new product or process, than ask yourself, can it be kept secret forever? You know, like a recipe or chemical formulation. If so, than you’ve got a trade secret and you need to ensure you can keep it that way.

If your secret can’t stay secret or it’s not supposed to, than you’ve got three options:

  1. Registered design – this protects the form of things. The product shape such as a lampshade.
  2. Copyright – this can protect original works like a book or a film, engineering drawings, posters, pictures, music and more.
  3. Patent – it can apply to a process, like harvesting honey in a new way. Or a product such as the Air New Zealand SkycouchTMand products the function or concept of your idea.

The next thing you must do is keep your new idea a secret until you’ve seen an IP professional, especially for getting patents and registered designs.