4 Types of Intellectual Property You Should Know About

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Fashion designers, artists, musicians, or just about any type of creator must think about protecting their intellectual property (IP). This is especially important once creators start gaining more attention and popularity. It’s essential to protect yourself before anything unfortunate happens, like your design being stolen. All too often, people get away with design theft and profit from another person’s hard work and creativity.

Australia’s IP laws provide legal protection for the innovative and unique creations and concepts of designers. IP theft is responsible for so much lost revenue for artists. Even today, people are still brazen enough to steal another person’s design outright. The best way to protect yourself is to identify your IP and then register it under one of the four types of IP.

To help you understand your options, here are four types of IP you should know about:


A trademark refers to anything ranging from a name, phrase, number, sound, shape, logo, image, or any combination of those listed. Anything you use as an identifier or something to help characterise your brand’s services or products can be considered a trademark.

Trademarks help customers identify brands, items, and more in less than a second. It is often so unique to your brand that it’s almost iconic, and people can only associate it with you. Some famous trademarks are Apple’s half-eaten apple, Nike’s checkmark, and Adidas’s three stripes.

It’s essential that you do your research and consult with an IP lawyer before registering your trademark, as you could risk infringing on an existing registered IP.


Design refers to the visual appearance of a product. Even if two designers create similar dresses in shape, design colour, technique, and brand name, they still aren’t the same. And there are limits to what designs can be deemed unique and different enough to warrant registering as IP.

It’s necessary to understand what is eligible and what isn’t. For example, in fashion, patterns and shapes cannot easily be considered IP. Only if there are exclusive details in the making or the design can it be registered as IP. This gives designers protection over their one-of-kind and innovative visual presentations of their products. A successful example can be Australian artist Ken Done, who registered pillowcases and quilt covers decorated with his artwork.


A patent covers a device, method, substance, or process. Registering your creation under a patent gives you exclusive rights to your invention. This doesn’t mean that no one can use it, only that it will be recognised as yours and you can earn from it.

Patents are thought to be in relation to science and technology. However, it is just as relevant in fashion and other industries. In the past few years, the fashion industry has come up with many innovations, like recyclable materials. Creating new materials, inventing a new process, and others can easily propel a business far ahead of their competitors if they register their IP as soon as possible.


In straightforward terms, copyright is the right to copy. Copyright encompasses almost every method of creative expression, writing, music, photos, videos, computer programs, and more. It protects your database and broadcasts as well.

Registering your IP under copyright gives you exclusive rights to use, copy, license, perform, and modify any creative work. Copyright will state who created it, when it was made, and how it works. Creators must use copyright to ensure that they alone have free access and control over their creative work and expressions.

The Bottom Line

As artists, creators, and creatives, you deserve to own your creations and do with them as you will. It’s important to know and understand every aspect of your work so you can be aware of what should only be yours. Whether you decide to keep your work to yourself or share it, or even relinquish ownership of it, it’s essential to register it as IP if you know the value and uniqueness of your work.

If you need brand protection, we can help secure your assets and creations. GLG Legal is commercial and property law firm based in Brisbane. We provide our clients with smart, innovative, and effective solutions to their legal troubles. We are as driven and ambitious as our clients and understand better than anyone the need to push to improve.

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