Ever worried that someone is copying your ideas without permission? Recipes, menus, designs – even your name.
When people see that you’re successful, it won’t take long for them to borrow your ‘intellectual property’ – a quick Google search usually gives them most of what they’re after!
In this interview I'm interviewed by Ken Burgin from Profitable Hospitality about intellectual property. We discuss trademarks, business names and logos, customer lists, ‘trade secrets’, photographs and of course menus and recipes. There’s a lot of protection you can take advantage of if you take the right steps – first you need to understand the terms and concepts.
Hop on over to the Profitable Hospitality Podcast to have a listen or download the podcast from iTunes via your favourite Podcatcher application (app).
Below are some useful links that I mention during the podcast:
The Australian Government agency that administers Intellectual Property (IP) rights on Trademarks and other IP such as Patents, Designs and Plant Bleeder's Rights.
Australian Copyright Council
If you search on 'recipes' in the search box the search result will be an information sheet called 'Recipes: Legal Protection', a great resource for Cafes and Chefs.
Arts Law Centre of Australia
A photographer's release form (sample agreement) can be purchased and downloaded for $75AUD. Note: there are many online document supply companies around the world where similar forms can be purchased and downloaded. Choose the company and forms relevant to your country.
United States Patent and Trademark Office:
The U.S. Copyright Office:
The office of public record for copyright registration and deposit of copyright material:
For assistance with protecting your Brand, applying for a Trademark in Australia or IP Strategies and business planning please contact me through the Contact Form on this website.
When I was young I grew up with the comic book series of the Phantom (among others) and I was reminded today that there are a lot of lessons we, as business owners, can learn from the Phantom comic strip series.
While I wouldn’t necessarily advocate wearing a bright purple one piece outfit in public (I think these days they’re called ‘onesies’) we can all learn something from the Phantom.
1. Have superpowers.
While the Phantom didn't actually have superpowers the perception was that he did which influenced many far and wide, he became known as ‘the ghost who walks’ or ‘the man you cannot die’.
No need to go to go the same extremes but work on becoming a thought leader in your industry or as some might put it a key person of influence, become known as the ‘go to person’ to solve problems and answer questions.
Let other people talk about your seemingly ‘secret powers’ and knowledge, your business will greatly benefit.
Build a supportive community around you willing to support and defend you when needed. In the Phantom's case he had a tribe of pygmies from the fictional African country of Bangalla to help him.
But in our society this is particularly a strong advantage of social media in that the various social media platforms gives you the opportunity to build a supportive community who believe in you, are willing to follow you and will defend you if attacked.
3. Fight evil and do good.
This was the mantra of the Phantom. While you don't have to physically fight evil always maintain your integrity and do good for your clients and those around you.
The Phantom was educated in the United States and understood the modern world (well his modern world), so you should continually be prepared to learn and to invest in yourself and in your team.
Complete the courses and programs relevant to your industry and to help maintain your business at the leading edge, if you don’t it won’t take long for you to fall behind your competitors.
5. Keep Cool.
Even when under fire and fighting against the enemy our hero never panicked but kept his cool and fought on. If you know your business model is good and you have the right skill set never give up! Be persistent in your efforts to continually move your business forward, long lasting success is not built overnight but over time.
Seek help and guidance when needed, keep cool, don’t panic!
6. Prepare for succession.
According to legend the Phantom started fighting against evil in 1536 and the cause was handed down from one generation to the next, each one preparing and instilling the skills in his successor.
Run your business as if you’re planning for succession, sale, or for building a passive income. At some point we all have to move on, it might be choice, illness or some other cause, so build systems and value in your business ready for that day. Learn about succession planning and strategic transition; start working on a long term plan ready for that day.
7. Build and protect your brand and Intellectual Property (IP).
In the Phantom’s case he strove to keep his identity secret, his family secret and his location secret but his ‘brand’ and reputation out there.
Fortunately we don’t have to go to those lengths today to protect your brands, we have registrable Trademarks and other mechanisms to help protect our Intellectual Property (IP).
Be prepared to fight against copycats who might to seek to mimic or destroy your brand reputation. Own a Trademark to protect your brand and understand copyright to protect your creativeness.
If you have any questions on how to protect your brand or instill Phantom like powers into your business contact me.
The Phantom is an American adventure comic strip created by Lee Falk first appearing in a daily newspaper strip in February 1936. The feature strip has been adapted into many media forms including television, film and video games and features a costumed crimefighter operating from the fictional African country 'Bangalla'.
© Geoff Moller 2014
Company A starts and builds up a successful online e-commerce store selling 'Product X' but only registers a ‘.com’ name and doesn’t bother to apply for a trademark. Company B also in the same industry in Australia creates a product called Product A, which happens to be almost exactly the same name as Company A, in other words ‘Company A’ becomes the product name of their new range of products called ‘Product A’.
Company B then registers an Australian domain name (.com.au) for their new product range now called ‘Product A’ and then proceeds to sell their range of products or redirect people to their ‘Company B’ be website.
Company A notices is that their sales have dropped off significantly to the point where they need to investigate what’s happening then discover Product A being sold by Company B and the fact that Company B has registered the various domain names for their new product line, Company A complains to auDA that the domain name is the same as their company name for Company A, auDA refuses to take action because the domain name is linked substantially to their new product range, or now well-established product range, company A sees a lawyer who tells them to take action against a Company B for passing themselves off as Company A promising Company A litigation is the best way to go and that they can get the offending website and product range shutdown.
The problem is Company B did not pass themselves off as Company A but has a product called Product A, and therein lies the problem.
If Company A had of taken the trouble to register a Trademark for their company name and products it would not be such a problem but now Company B is well established in the marketplace with their product range ‘Product A’.
The story is still ongoing and it will be very expensive for both parties, I’m not involved but from what I’m seeing and although Company A has now applied for a trademark the horse has bolted, it may be too late to win the battle, but you never know. Whichever way it turns out it will be expensive.
The moral of the story is if you have a brand, product or range of services that bring in your income and you want to protect it the best way to do that is to own a registered trademark around that brand, logo or business name. I’m a management consultant and primarily help people with their IP strategies and apply for Trademarks to protect their brands.
Note: .au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA) is the policy authority and industry self-regulatory body for the .au domain space.