How to safeguard your creative idea

And how to be compensated if someone wants to use it

In a competitive and crowded marketplace Agencies often struggle to stand tall and protect valuable ideas.

Its important to remember we have industry best practice tools and techniques to ensure that recognition, reward, and respect, is maintained.

Intellectual Property (IP) possibilities are infinite and limited only by one’s imagination, yet there is a danger: if we don’t identify and protect our business’s IP first, then there is nothing to stop others capitalising on the opportunities we miss, which will cost then us recognition, and money!

Agencies should never fear presenting their ideas.  We shouldn’t be afraid to reveal clever ideas to our prospective and existing clients, and we should feel free and confident to show them off in the hope that they will be bought.

‘It’s my idea, I own it’ isn’t enough

At pitch we should always use the © copyright symbol and ™ or ® trademark symbols. The copyright mark protects the written expression of our ideas. The trademark ™  and ® symbols protect our ideas.

In Australia copyright is free and applies automatically when material is created, lasting the lifetime of the author, plus a further 70 years.

The “copyright notice” consists of the symbol ©, followed by the name of the copyright owner and the year of first publication: refer to the footer of this page for example:

Copyrights of an individual person: © Kathryn Williams 2017

Copyrights of a company: © Kathryn’s Mint Pty Ltd 2017

The symbol ™  can be used at any time to inform the audience that you recognise and claim ownership of the logo, picture, word, letter, sound, scent, shape etc. You do not have to move forward to actually register a trade mark, however when you do: the symbol ® is used to inform the audience that the idea is a ‘Registered’ trade mark, and your legal rights will be easier to enforce.

Concept Fees, the how and the how much

Agencies are always responsible for ensuring commercial professionalism when selling and monitoring usage of products and services. If we become aware of our Agency work being copied or used without permission, a courteous request for compensation would is our best starting point, followed by a formal letter from our Intellectual Property Attorney.

Of course if our Client loves our ideas, even if we are not appointed as the Agency to execute them, there are a number of ways we can allow the Client to use them. For example, outright purchase, license, and even complimentary use for a set term if we feel it could be a worthwhile investment for our business.

Agency personnel need to be able to explain Concept Fees to the client. Including a justification for the amount, and an explanation of how it is billed.

The key criteria to develop a Concept Fee includes:

  1. Where will it be used – local, national, international?
  2. How will we communicate it – press, print, radio, tv, web?
  3. How long will it last – 1 month, 1 year, ongoing?
  4. Base Cost to create – brainstorming, mock ups, presentation?
  5. Future value – how long the Client intends to use the idea, and anticipated return on investment?

Invest in Professional Development

Ultimately it is the Agency management who needs to be sure the team clearly understands that ideas are a hugely valuable resource, and ideas also deliver long term brand equity and profitable returns for Clients.

The skills, abilities and experience of our Agency personnel to deliver these assets are just as valuable.  Investing in professional development to ensure the team learns how to protect great ideas, and be rewarded for them, will ultimately bring about positive changes to the entire Agency performance.

Remember, creativity is the foundation of your business and protecting it and commercialising it should be a key consideration.

If you would like some help with building your team’s understanding of IP issues, developing a Concept Fee, or other industry best practice tools and tips, drop me a line for a complimentary consultation session.