IP 101, from secret recipes to trade marks

Whether you’re a start-up or a family business that’s been trading for generations, research shows that recognising and protecting your intellectual property (IP) is critical to growth, protecting what’s yours and building and maintaining a good reputation.

Business.govt.nz and the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) have teamed up to offer new content explaining why, when and how small businesses should consider IP.

Included is an infographic showing key milestones when every business should think about IP and how to protect it.

There are a lot of misconceptions about IP, namely that it’s expensive, complicated and only for big businesses and inventors, says business.govt.nz manager Matt Kennedy-Good.

“IP is for everyone and there are lots of easy, cost-effective or even free things that small business owners can do to protect themselves,” he says.

“Whether it’s knowing to put a copyright notice on a website before launching, or just realising why it’s so important to keep a great idea secret, this content will help business owners work out what the best IP option is for them.”

Craig Jackson, who owns Auckland-based ice pop business Dr Feelgood, says IP is essential for small businesses and something he considered very early on.

“We understand what IP is and what it’s worth. For example, we looked at protecting our brand as soon as we came up with it,” he says.

“We have trade mark registrations covering the goods we sell in New Zealand and are now protecting ourselves in other markets we’re going to. It’s all tied to our business strategy.”

Case study

Case study

IP strategy for Common Ledger

Carlos Chambers, co-owner of Wellington software company Common Ledger, agrees. Developing an IP strategy was a key step in start-up phase and it’s since helped his business expand.

“We built an IP strategy a few months before the business strategy. It was as much around where we wanted to go as it was about what we were then doing,” he says.

We understood how much we had to spend and then worked from there. We had our budget before we went in - New Zealand offers strong IP knowledge and high quality advice for software businesses like Common Ledger.

Having a sound IP strategy also helped Common Ledger attract investment and the company has recently raised nearly $1m from high-profile Australasian investors.

An added advantage of the investors we’ve chosen is that they have a specific global focus, which aligns with our goals for the business,he says.

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