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Five Steps to Protecting your International Intellectual Property Rights

By Webb Ward
Posted: 2nd May 2014 08:38
If you have developed an idea, product or design, ensuring that it is solely your property can be a complex business.  This is particularly so when considered in an international context.  Unfortunately, just because you have registered your intellectual property in one country does not mean that it enjoys protection elsewhere.  These rights are usually specific to one single territory.  So, if you are thinking about establishing a presence overseas, there are several actions worth taking.
Think Carefully About Your Strategy
There is a big difference between seeking to register a patent and concluding a confidentiality agreement.  Both however, and others, are legitimate steps to take to protect your intellectual property.  You must carefully assess the options and work out which is the right step for you.  Also, think about where you want protection.  Each country has different regulations, with each one taking a slightly different view on essential issues such as the balance between private and public interests.  Consider all the different variables and only then should you decide how to proceed.
Check out the International Treaties
One potential 'short cut' to getting effective intellectual property protection is to apply via one of the various international agreements which are in place.  It can help streamline the whole process, without having to turn to the individual framework within each country.  For example, the Madrid Protocol allows you to establish a trademark in multiple countries in one single instance.  However, it is also worth noting that these international treaties can be extremely complex.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement for example has been under negotiation by several parties since 2005. 
Make Sure You Aren't Infringing
One of the hazards of all of this is to be absolutely sure that you are not infringing on somebody else's intellectual property.  If you are looking to register in a country in which your state has an existing understanding or agreement, then this process should be somewhat more straightforward.  So for example, an Australian should check to see whether there is an agreement already in place between Australia and their target country.  One of the last things you want to do is launch the registration process, only to find that someone else got there before you.
Seek Legal Advice
Rather than plough through the various options by yourself, it is vital to access professional help and advice.  A legal service with an expertise in these issues, such as Legal Vision can be invaluable to your efforts.  You should certainly find a legal advisor with an international purview, who can help to weigh the options and advise depending on the country in which you wish to register your product or idea.  At the end of the day, it is well worth relying on the experts when it comes to navigating the complex web of intellectual property.
Select the Correct Tool
There is any number of methods and tools to protect your intellectual property – Make sure that you select the correct one.  Among the options are patents, trademarks, copyright and confidentiality agreements.  Illustrating the vast differences, a patent is a formal category of registration which is complex to secure and gives you the right to exclusively commercially exploit your property.  A confidentiality agreement on the other hand is a private agreement, which ensures that one party cannot reveal secret knowledge within an agreed period.  Make sure that you utilise the best intellectual property tool for you.

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