GOOD NEWS! Covid-19 is an inventive business opportunity

Written by: Tara Parish | TJIP | July 28, 2020

Covid-19 is hitting many businesses hard. Sales are low, sentiment is gloomy and new projects on hold. But the good news is not everyone is suffering, some businesses appear magically to have increased sales, and not just selling seeds or toilet paper! Other businesses have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic and developed a new product or brand, dramatically improving their business strength now, and for the long term. None of these businesses have been gifted the new business. Instead they have thought hard and worked tirelessly to develop new business methods and products, and to quickly secure the intellectual property (IP) rights and an exclusive right to sell or make these new products, potentially worldwide.

Protection of these IP rights, patents for inventions and trade mark registrations enables a monopoly to be obtained, so only that business can use the new advance or sell the products under the new brand, a strong competitive edge. The monopoly can be established in Australia and extended around the world. IP rights are a specific form of legal property right, able to be sold or licensed, and administered through the government body IP Australia https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/ and equivalents overseas patent offices, and there are lots of free resources for entrepreneurs on the website.

For professional advice, different to your usual legal adviser, a registered Patent Attorney has a technical degree and specialist IP Law qualification and are allowed by law to assist with preparation of patent specifications. Likewise, a Registered Trade Marks Attorney has a specific qualification after their first degree to enable careful advice on protection of trade marks. Quality advice often can reduce costs in the long term and increase the scope of the valuable patent and trade mark protection. A list of Registered Patent and Trade Marks Attorneys follows: https://ipta.org.au/community/find-an-attorney/

Before you take advice, you need to consider what changes in your business may be brought about, or if you have a new product as a possible side business. Historically we know that war brings times of rapid technological advance, and scientific breakthrough, emergency needs leading to the solving of significant problems. The Covid-19 pandemic is driving very rapid and significant change for business, these changes are in the way we work, the way we communicate, and the way we do business with one another. New products and methods are being developed to enable us to continue life while in lockdown and beyond adhering to Covid-19 restrictions. All businesses owners are worried about the future, but this is not a time to bemoan the Covid-19 changes, but rather to embrace the new business opportunities with new offerings and ways of doing business.

Telehealth is an excellent positive example of successful change. It appears that regulatory issues have been removed, almost overnight, to allow health practitioners to deliver telehealth services, a significant benefit to those who usually need to travel for the appointment. Each service has had to look at how they worked previously, and to look to build new business models, practices and pricing schedules to meet the government requirements, and keep patients and staff safe. The use of remote consults has now become a normal modus operandi, not just for the health industry, but for all professional services who can do so. Interestingly, for those of us who run an international business, remote video calls consults are already a regular part of our work, but now everyone is doing it!

For businesses that sell products, changes in online sales may open new markets if the business owner can manage the difficulties well. Each business has different challenges but taking a positive attitude to the challenge can lead to an increase in the potential sales and new markets.

What does this all mean? Consider a positive look at your existing business, the IP you have, the inventions, trade marks, and industrial designs, are these property protected, and where may there be new opportunities for new products and trade marks, for new brands that can be built as a completely new aspect and revenue stream for your business. If you can protect these new products, or brands through IP rights the monopoly to exploit these new products or brands may enable you to look back on Covid-19 as a positive turning point.

The above is general advice only, specific legal and business advice should be sought for your particular situation. 

Tara J Parish is an international IP law expert of more than 20 years standing, Registered Patent Attorney, Registered Trade Marks Attorney, Fellow of the Institute of Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys Australia, Start-up advisor, Innovation Mentor CSIRO On Prime program https://www.csiro.au and Industry Mentor IMNIS https://imnis.org.au/ Linked inhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/tara-j-parish-5702aa1b/

TJIP Patents, Trade Marks & Designs is an international IP Law firm based in Townsville providing advice on patents for inventions, trade marks and industrial designs for more than 10 years. www.tjip.com.au contact stars@tjip.com.au or 07 47725775.

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