De Kock Attorneys Protecting Ideas
Protecting new ideas

We are often approached by clients with a request to help them protect their “ideas”. After some consultation, it usually turns out that there may be one or more forms of intellectual property relating to the idea which may be protected.

Generally, it is very difficult to protect an idea per se. The best approach is to reduce the idea or concept to material form. In this regard, we recommend that you at least write down or type up the idea and/or make drawings or flow-charts to represent the concept. We suggest that you mark all such materials with your name, the date and the international copyright symbol, namely ©

If the concept or idea is new, it is best to keep it secret and if you do share it with anyone else, apart from your attorney, to request that such person signs a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement or undertaking.

It is important to identify the possible different forms of intellectual property which may subsist in a new object, business or idea. Once the different forms of intellectual property have been identified, the next step would be to consider means to protect the different intellectual property aspects.

For example, if your idea relates to a new hair product, a patent registration may be considered in respect of the formula of the shampoo, a trade mark registration may be considered for the name of the product, a design registration may be considered for the shape of the bottle and copyright protection may apply to the get-up or packaging of the product.

Furthermore, if your idea relates to a new restaurant business, to obtain adequate protection for your intellectual property aspects, it may be necessary to consider registration of the name of the business on the Companies or Close Corporations Registers; to register the name of the business and its products or services as trade marks; and to register the name of the business and its products or services as domain names to prevent unauthorised use thereof by third parties on the internet.

Need further advice or information?
Please note that the above comments are general remarks and different elements and recommendations may relate to different ideas or concepts in practice. If you require recommendations on how to protect the intellectual property aspects relating to your ideas, you are welcome to contact us for advice on your specific circumstances.
 

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