The concept of intellectual property (IP)


Intellectual Property is the property of your mind or proprietary knowledge. It is a productive new idea you create. This can be an invention, trade mark, design, brand or even the application of your idea.

Types of IP

The IP Australia website gives some important information about the types of IP and what they cover.


Copyright provides creators with an incentive to create new works and a legal framework for the control of their creations. It protects textual material, computer programs, compilations, artistic works, dramatic works, musical works, cinematograph films, sound recordings, broadcasts, published editions. It does not protect ideas, information, styles, techniques, names, titles or slogans. Protection is free and applies automatically when material is created. No registration is needed.


A patent is a right that protects any device, substance, method or process that is new, inventive and useful. It must be applied for and it is not granted automatically.

Design Rights

Design Rights protect what makes a product look the way it does. It includes shape, configuration, pattern and ornamentation. When applied to a product, it gives it a unique appearance. It must be applied for and it is not granted automatically.

Trade Marks

Trade Marks are used to distinguish your goods and services from those of another business. Sometimes referred to as a brand, it can help your customers discern the quality of your product or service over that of your opposition. Not just a logo, it can be a letter, number, word, phrase, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture, movement, aspect of packaging, or combination of these. It must be applied for and it is not granted automatically.

Other Forms of IP

There are many other forms of IP including Trade Secrets, Circuit Layouts and more. See The Types of IP page for more information.

Intention and purpose of IP in Australia in relation to copyright and/ or design of digital products

The IP Australia website is a great place to begin your understanding of Intellectual Property. While you are reading through the website, take into account the syllabus dot point refers to the design of digital products so be sure to continue to refer back to digital products.

IP basics for business

Intent and Purpose of IP in Australia

You generate IP when you create something new or original and you can protect your ideas or designs by obtaining an IP right. Australia's IP laws provide a legal framework to protect your creative ideas and designs.'

Legally enforceable IP rights encourage technological innovation and artistic expression for many industries including the design industry. IP protection is also one of the key building blocks of Australia's economy because it helps foster creativity and reward innovation.

Designers should be rewarded for their innovation and creativity. IP is a very valuable asset and an IP right allows you to protect your design from being copied or misused.

The concept of online defamation in Australia

Online defamation in Australia is when someone intentionally communicates false things about someone in an online environment in order to damage the reputation of that person. This could be in the form of a decreased respect for that person or the encouragement a lack of confidence in the person such as slander or character assassination.

Defamation is actionable regardless of the medium. A person can be defamed through print (e.g. newspaper), photos (e.g. Instagram) or online (e.g. Facebook) and more. While online defamation is a relatively new concept, the same principles apply to the original concept of defamation.

Legal action available in Australia to counteract online defamation

If you have been the victim of online defamation, there are a various actions you can take. It is important to know that you can only take civil action for online defamation, and not criminal action should it get to that stage.

  • You can formally approach the person and/or host and request that they remove the information. Typically, this would also involve an apology (private and/or public).
  • You can have a lawyer compose a legal letter to the person responsible for the online defamation asking them to remove the information, threatening legal action should they choose not to remove it.
  • You can seek legal advice in terms of taking legal action against the person responsible for the online defamation e.g. suing the person

It is important to note that the person who created the defamatory material is not the only person who could be found guilty of defamation. If a person/company republishes the material (e.g. retweets a defamatory tweet), then they may also be liable for damages. This could also extend to those individuals or companies that host the information (e.g. ISPs).

The concept of freedom of information (FOI) in Australia

Individuals have the right to request access to documents from Australian Government ministers and most agencies under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).

Most Australian Government agencies are subject to the FOI Act, and must release documents in response to an FOI request unless there is an overriding reason not to do so.

The FOI Act covers:

  • Australian Government ministers
  • most, but not all, Australian Government agencies
  • the Administration of Norfolk Island.

Some agencies, such as intelligence agencies, are exempt from the FOI Act altogether. Others, such as some courts and tribunals, are exempt in relation to certain documents.

Key provisions of FOI in Australia in relation to digital products

The FOI Act:

Advantages, disadvantages and implications of virtual and physical collaboration

Virtual collaboration is the method of collaboration between virtual team members that is carried out via technology-mediated communication. Virtual collaboration follows the same process as collaboration, but the parties involved in virtual collaboration do not physically interact and communicate exclusively through technological channels. Distributed teams use virtual collaboration to simulate the information transfer present in face-to-face meetings, communicating virtually through verbal, visual, written, and digital means.

Virtual collaboration is commonly used by globally distributed business and scientific teams. Ideally, virtual collaboration is most effective when it can simulate face-to-face interaction between team members through the transfer of contextual information, but technological limits in sharing certain types of information prevent virtual collaboration from being as effective as face-to-face interaction.

Advantages of Virtual Collaboration

  • Allows businesses the ability to hire staff from around the world (bigger pool of human resources)
  • Reduce travel costs/travel time for businesses to meet with staff global/regional offices
  • Meetings anytime from anywhere

Disadvantages of Virtual Collaboration

  • Inability to meet outside of set meeting times (no 'cooler-conversations')
  • Meaning is sometimes lost through online communication
  • Time differences, language barriers and cultural differences may be more difficult to overcome through online communication such as email
  • Motivation can waiver because group members do not have to physically gather to work

Implications of Virtual Collaboration

  • Encourages a global workforce
  • Makes it easier to outsource to third-party companies in a global context
  • Has both a positive and negative effect on work-life balance (people are more accessible, more flexible working arrangements)

Impact of convergence trends in contemporary digital technologies

Digital convergence refers to the evolution of combining of (single-use) technologies into a device that performs both/all of those technologies together on the one device. As time progresses, we are now starting to see the convergence of convergence (multi-use devices being combined into a super-device).

Positive impacts of convergence trends

  • Reduce costs to the user (instead of purchasing two separate devices, purchasing one)
  • More satisfying user-experience (technologies work together with each other - e.g take a photo using camera and send it in an SMS)
  • Helps business drive innovation (new products and services can be created)
  • More technology embedded in devices that previously did not use technology or had limited technology (improves lifestyle as technology does the thinking/hard work for us)
  • Enable businesses to increase productivity (technologies working together to improve the processes in business)
  • Automation of mundane work

Negative impacts of convergence trends

  • Automation of jobs (the convergence of certain technologies is seeing job losses as technology performs the role of human tasks)
  • Companies with single-use products are going out of business (if companies do not keep up with trends they go out of business e.g. Nokia, Kodak)