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As a property manager, it is important to have your brand stand out to clients and tenants in a busy market. This can benefit your business and make it easier for clients to identify your brand quickly and easily. As a property manager, your intellectual property can be widely distributed, from Trade Me to letterheads, so it is important to protect it. Steps to protect your IP include both identifying and enforcing your intellectual property. It is also important to understand the different types of intellectual property that could be relevant to you as a property manager. The intellectual property you might encounter includes trade marks, copyright and your business name. 

This article will detail these different types of intellectual property and how to identify and enforce them if needed.

Different Types of Intellectual Property

As a property manager, you will create and use different types of intellectual property during your work. It is important to know what intellectual property tools you need to protect your brand and work.

Trade Marks

A trade mark is a tool that lets you differentiate your intellectual property from other businesses. You can trade mark:

  • logos;
  • letters;
  • words;
  • numbers;
  • sounds;
  • smells;
  • shapes; or 
  • any other distinctive part of your branding.

A trade mark allows you to have exclusive possession of your work. This means you can decide who can use it and when. For you, as a property manager, this may be relevant if you create a logo for your business. You can register your trade mark with the Intellectual Property Office New Zealand (IPONZ). They have a simple online application that will be approved if your trade mark material is original and distinct from other registered trade marks. 

You can also have an unregistered trade mark. For an unregistered trade mark to be afforded the same rights and protections as a registered trade mark, it must have:

  • recognition as original by customers; and
  • a long-standing reputation in your market.

You will be able to protect unregistered trade marks, but it is always best to register a trade mark if possible.

Copyright

Copyright protects artistic works that you create during the course of your business. As a property manager, this could include books, videos or sounds.

For example, you may have a jingle or video advert for marketing purposes.

Copyright protection is automatically applied in New Zealand. You will be eligible for copyright if your artistic work is original and you are the creator. Copyright protection gives you the right to copy your work as you please and prevent others from copying it if you wish.

Business Name

Your business name is vital to protect as a property management business. Both clients and tenants need to be able to recognise you easily. This will benefit you as it will help your business run smoothly and help you stand out. You can register your company name so that others cannot use it in your market. This ensures that your name is original and not similar to any other business. Your company must be original and must not contain:

  • numbers;
  • symbols;
  • macrons; or
  • words restricted by legislation. 

Identifying Your Intellectual Property

Identifying and labelling your intellectual property can help protect your brand. It signals to others that the work or content is yours and should not be used by anyone else without permission. It is good practice to label your intellectual property at all times. During your work as a property manager, this may mean you add a trade mark label to your logo so that every time you use it, you are identifying it as your intellectual property. When you send emails or make information booklets, for example, this ensures your brand is protected.

The labels you can use on your work depend on the type of copyright you have. These are:

Company names cannot be labelled, but if you are displaying your business name with your company logo, you can use a trade mark symbol.

Enforcing Your Intellectual Property

If you think that someone has infringed on your intellectual property rights, you can take action. If you have already registered and identified your intellectual property, it will be easier to protect. It is best to seek legal advice before pursuing the many legal avenues available to you when somebody infringes on your intellectual property.

Key Takeaways

You can use trade marks, copyright and your business name to strengthen your brand. This ensures that the people you work with will easily recognise you. You can achieve this by registering and identifying your intellectual property. If someone is overstepping your rights when it comes to your intellectual property, you can take legal action. If you need further assistance, contact LegalVision’s intellectual property lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I trade mark?

You can trade mark distinctive elements of your business’ brand such as your logo, slogan, jingle and colour scheme.

How long does a trade mark registration last?

A trade mark registration lasts 10 years before it needs renewal.

How long does copyright last?

Copyright lasts your lifetime and then 50 years after your death.

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