Business success is essentially a function of how much competitive advantage you have in your business. This is especially true with companies that cater to a fast-moving market that has plenty of options from which to choose. So how do you beat your competitors and even get ahead of them? Know what they’re doing and take the right steps to get ahead of them.
This article shares some tips that will help you know what your competitors are doing and what steps you can take to get ahead.
Know your competition
Sounds obvious, right? Unfortunately, as obvious as this sounds, many businesses do not take the time to identify their competitors. Find out who your competitors are; identify their strengths and weaknesses, and learn from both. With this knowledge, you will be able to identify the areas you need to compete in and give your business a distinct voice.
How to know your competitors
Attend industry conferences
Analyse industry reports
Analyse your competitors' marketing strategies and pick learning points
Listen to your customers – especially the dissatisfied ones. The odds are that while they are complaining, they will list some other businesses that currently provide better services than you.
A sure way to keep ahead of your competition is to innovate constantly. Keep tweaking your products and service offerings. Remember: the fact that your business model is working fine does not mean that it cannot get better. So keep reinventing the wheel, keeping in mind that the world we now live in is continuously evolving.
Protect your innovations
There is nothing as frustrating as putting in hundreds of hours working on an innovative idea, only to hear that someone else had the idea as well – and has made sure that no one else can do the same thing. To avoid this kind of heartbreak, it is crucial that you protect your innovation as soon as you possibly can.
Kinds of protection available
There are four main kinds of protection available to businesses. They are trademarks, patents, copyright, and trade secrets.
Trademarks protect words, phrases, symbols, sounds, smells, and colour schemes. They distinguish your products and services from those of your competitors. They can be any of the elements named above or a combination of them.
Patents protect inventive products or processes. So if your manufacturing business has come up with a better way of mass-producing your products and increasing profit margin while maintaining quality, patent protection is your best bet.
Copyright protects the manner in which ideas are expressed. So if you have come up with an original artwork such as a new website or written content for your business, or work of artistic craftsmanship, copyright protection provides a right for you to stop competitors from copying that work. As a notification to third parties, you should add a statement you claim copyright on any relevant material, with a year and a copyright symbol.
Design registrations cover the specific appearance of your product. It is a limited form of protection but is quick and easy to obtain and a valuable asset for protecting against counterfeit or substantially similar products.
Trade secrets can also be a valuable tool to help protect your business and provide a competitive advantage by keeping confidential information of your business.
Competitor activity can be monitored by maintaining watches and searching the relevant Intellectual Property Office databases. An early warning of potential IP rights that could affect your business operations may be useful in planning early modifications or provide confirmation of your continued freedom to operate. Searches can also help reveal IP rights you may want to oppose or invalidate.
For more information on how to protect your business and keep ahead of your competitors, please send a message to us as BONDiP. We will be happy to answer all of your questions.
With the world still reeling from the decimating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the healthcare system and global economy, many businesses are struggling to keep their heads above the water.
Recognising this, IP Australia has put some waiver of IP rules in place to help affected businesses survive during the COVID-19 pandemic. The waivers include the following:
Deadlines for issues like paying fees, responding to reports, and other time-bound matters regarding IP protection may now be extended due to the impact of COVID-19. However, you have to apply for these extensions and understand that the requests are considered case-by-case.
To apply for an extension, you need to have a written declaration where you explain the circumstances preventing you or that have prevented you from meeting the deadline. Note, however, that deadline extensions are only relevant to patents, trademarks, and design extension requests.
If your business is concerned with plant breeder’s rights, the above provisions do not apply to you. Instead, click here to find out what you should do.
Oppositions and hearings
You can have your hearing via video conferencing, telephone calls, or written submissions. However, if you feel that none of these avenues suffice for you, and you will prefer an in-person hearing, please get in touch with us at BONDiP. We will be happy to facilitate this for you.
International patent applications
For information on the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Madrid System, or WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center, please refer to WIPO's website.
If you are filing your international patent application using the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), Australia follows the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) recommendations. Summarily, the WIPO has a rule regarding the PCT known as Rule 82quater.1.
The Rule allows for delays in meeting PCT time limits due to reasons of force majeure. Force majeure covers situations like “war, revolution, civil disorder, strike, natural calamity… or other like reason”. Thus, the IB says they will consider the COVID-19 pandemic a natural calamity….or other like reason.
Regarding COVID-19 and the temporary waiver of IP rules affecting vaccines
Recent updates show that the World Trade Organization (WTO) is waiting on a small number of countries to accept a temporary waiver of IP rules regarding COVID-19 vaccines. If these countries accept the waiver, it will be easier to produce COVID-19 vaccines and drugs at larger scales and lower prices, thus saving more lives.
As of the time of writing this, September 15, 2021, Australia, being one of the countries the WTO is waiting on, is yet to announce its support of the temporary waiver of IP rules.
If you have any concerns regarding the safety of your intellectual property due to these waivers, contact BONDiP today to book a free consultation.
Australian Patent VS International Patent
An Australian patent protects your invention only in Australia. If you are considering entering the international market with your invention, you need to file international patent applications. You can do this in two ways:
Through the Paris Convention, and
Through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIIPO)
The Paris Convention is a treaty that offers its member countries some flexibility when filing patent applications. It gives a citizen of a member country some grace period within which they can file their patent applications in any other member country. For design patents and trademarks, the grace period is six months, while invention patents get a grace period of one year.
How is the patent grace period measured?
The grace period is typically measured from the date of filing the first application. So, suppose you are a business owner domiciled in a member country, or you want to get patent protection in some member countries. In that case, you will first file your application in your home country and then file corresponding applications in other member countries. Note, however, that you must file this application within the grace period allotted to your innovation.
What are the benefits?
A significant benefit the Paris Convention provides member countries is the claim to priority. The claim to priority means that if you file your application in another member country, your application will be treated as if it was filed on the same date you filed the original one in your home country. For more information on this, click here to speak with one of our intellectual property attorneys at BONDiP.
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) allows you to file a single international patent application at your home country’s patent office. The unique thing about filing under the PCT is that you can file a patent application in several different countries at the same time.
When you apply for an international patent, your application automatically takes effect in over 150 countries because of the Patent Cooperation Treaty. It also gives you some extra time to decide whether you want to continue with your international patent application and which countries you want to pursue the patent protection. For most countries, you have up to 30 months and 31 months for Australia. This way, you can extend the grace period you have from the 12 months the Paris Convention gives you.
Fortunately, many member countries of the Paris Convention are also members of the Patent Cooperation Treaty. However, note that you will still need to meet the patent filing requirements of each country you choose. Also, unlike the Paris Convention, the PCT only covers invention patents. It does not cover design patents or trademarks. Thus, you cannot use the PCT to prolong the six-month grace period you get with the Paris Convention.