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If you are a coach, you may have created intellectual property to market your services during coaching. Additionally, you may work with groups or individuals that create intellectual property. As a couch you can take steps to protect your intellectual property before you start coaching clients. Then you can take steps to protect it if someone else infringes on your rights. This article will step you through the different types of intellectual property you may need to consider as a coach and steps for navigating this area. This article will apply to many different kinds of coaches, from a business coach to a life coach.

Understand How Intellectual Property Works

Intellectual property functions similarly to physical property in that you can own it and benefit from it financially. You may need to consider different types of intellectual property as a coach. The main types of intellectual property in New Zealand are:

  • trade marks; 
  • patents; 
  • copyright; 
  • design; 
  • plant variety rights; 
  • geographical indications; and
  • Māori intellectual property.

If you are a coach, the most likely types of intellectual property relevant to you will be trade marks and copyright.

Register Vital Trade Marks

A trade mark is any sign that distinguishes your business from other traders. You can register a trade mark to protect:  

  • words;
  • logos; 
  • shapes; 
  • colours; 
  • sounds; 
  • smells; or 
  • any combination of these. 

For example, you may register a trade mark to protect your business name or a logo representing your visual branding.

Crucially, a trade mark allows you to decide who can use and benefit from your trade mark. You can have a registered or unregistered trade mark. However, owning a registered trade mark means that your protection is guaranteed.

You can apply through the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) website to register your trade mark. You can begin this process by:

  • searching for existing trade marks to check if a trade mark similar to yours already exists on the New Zealand trade marks register; and
  • completing the online application on the IPONZ website.

Once you submit your application, IPONZ will usually review the application within 15 working days to ensure that it meets the requirements for registration. However, even after this, there is still more to the registration process, which takes a minimum of six months in New Zealand.

Trade Mark Essentials in New Zealand

Our free Trade Mark Essentials in New Zealand guide explains how to register and defend your trade mark registration.

Download Now

Protect Your Copyrighted Works

Copyright protects original works in a material form, including: 

  • artwork;
  • books; 
  • websites; 
  • computer programs; 
  • drawings; 
  • plays; 
  • films; 
  • music; and 
  • sound recordings.

You do not have to formally register copyright work as the protection is automatic in New Zealand. However, there are still criteria that have to be met for original works to be protected by copyright. As the copyright owner, you can decide who can use and benefit from your work.

For instance, if you write your own manuals or help books, this would qualify as copyright. Therefore, you have certain rights if someone tries to copy your work without permission.

This kind of work can involve a lot of time and effort, so you must recognise that the content you create can have legal rights attached. Following that, it is up to you to take advantage of the inherent protection of any copyrighted works you do generate.

Label Your Intellectual Property

Once you have identified and registered your intellectual property where relevant, you may wish to label it to let others know that it is yours. This can help to deter others from infringing on your intellectual property rights and strengthen your brand in the marketplace. 

Trade marks that are registered can be labelled with the ® symbol. Trade marks that are not registered can be labelled with the ™ symbol. You can label copyright work with the © symbol

Follow Up on Infringement

After taking these steps, you can still take action to protect your intellectual property even if it is registered and labelled. If you think that someone is infringing on your intellectual property rights, it is always best to seek legal advice. For example, if another coach or coaching business begins to use your coaching videos or creates a business with a similar logo, you may wish to take legal action.

Key Takeaways 

As a coach, you will have your own intellectual property and possibly create intellectual property collaborating with others. You can take steps to protect your intellectual property. You can register a trade mark to protect your brand and label it. Additionally, some of the work you create can have inherent intellectual property rights, such as copyrighted works. Ensure you are aware of these rights and enforce them where appropriate. If you need assistance with your intellectual property, LegalVision’s experienced IP lawyers can help you. Call 0800 005 570 or fill out a form on our website.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I know if my copyright is not infringing on someone else’s intellectual property rights?

There is no need to register copyright in New Zealand. The best way to ensure that your copyright work is not infringing on someone else’s rights is to create original work.

How can I enforce copyright?

It is best to seek legal advice if you think someone has infringed your copyright. You may be able to proceed with legal action. 

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