IP: Frequently Asked Questions

I have an idea, is it protected by copyright?

Copyright does not protect ideas or concepts.  Copyright only protects the written expression of ideas.  Someone can write the idea in their own words and it may not be a breach of any rights you have in the idea other than in limited circumstances.

Sometimes ideas can be protected through confidentiality, but once in the public domain generally cannot be protected at all.

I have copied this training manual, but I changed it by 10%. Am I still infringing copyright?

In short, probably yes.  However, this is not a straightforward question to answer.

The test for whether copyright is being infringed looks at the quality of what has been taken and what is still the same.  The quantity of what has been copied is irrelevant.  There are, however, some exemptions to infringement.  So it is best to get some advice.

I have registered and started using a businesses name but I just received a letter telling me to stop using it.  How can that be?

Business names, company names and domain names do not give you any rights in that name.  In order to get proprietary rights in a name it must be registered as a trade mark or you need to have developed a reputation in that name through use.

You should get searches of the public domain and trade mark register done before settling on a new brand.  It is cheaper to pay for the searches than to launch a new brand and then have to pay for the rebrand when you discover you are infringing someone else’s rights.

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