Intellectual property [IP] is a product of the mind or intellect. IP arises through creative activity, such as research that may give rise to an IP asset in the form of a patentable invention. IP assets exist by virtue of protection by laws. To have value, IP assets must be:

  • identifiable from other assets
  • able to produce on-going benefits
  • protected and not free in the public domain
  • transferable from a seller to a buyer
Ownership of IP arises from laws relating to the protection of IP rights, including: Trade Secrets, Copyright, Trade Marks, Industrial Designs, Patents, and Domain Names.

In brief, Confidential Information or Trade Secrets are protected through the common law. Legislated laws govern : Copyright in written and artistic works; Trademarks of distinctive marks and names; Industrial Designs for the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of an article and, Patents for inventions.

IP is categorised by accountants as an intangible asset rather than a tangible asset such as money, buildings and equipment. However, an owner can deal with IP in a similar way to an owner of tangible property.

For example, IP may be assigned (i.e. sold) or it could be licensed (i.e. leased) to another party in whole or in part, exclusively or non-exclusively, for some or all of the markets in the world. There are many ways of dealing with IP to derive economic benefits. This is a complex area, generally requiring knowledge and practical experience for success.

Who owns the intellectual property that you create?

  • As a general rule, if you are an employee, your employer will own the IP you create in the course of your duties.
  • The right of ownership carries a right to prevent others from using the IP without the owner's permission.

It is important to seek legal advice about IP in the territory in which you are operating. It is important not to make a premature public disclosure of IP.

Premature disclosure can harm the ability to protect the IP from unauthorized use.

Premature disclosure can diminish the value of IP.

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