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What does the term ‘intellectual property’ mean?
In very general terms, intellectual property is used to describe ‘creations of the mind’, with the more widely known intellectual property including inventions, designs, art, music and written works. Some intellectual property can be protected through registration, such as trade marks and patents (which relates to inventions). However, the law does offer some protection for intellectual property that is not registered or, in some cases, not registerable. In the franchise context, the franchisor will grant the franchisee the right to use some intellectual property, such as trade marks and the know-how that is required to operate the franchised business. Intellectual property is very important to a franchisor, which will want to ensure that its intellectual property is protected at all times and is not disclosed to any unauthorised recipients or used other than for the purpose of operating the franchised business. If you are considering entering into a franchise agreement, you should always check before you sign it that the franchisor is the owner of, or has legal rights to use, the franchise network’s intellectual property such as the trade name, trade marks or other distinguishing identification. This is to avoid a situation where a third party may bring a claim against you for using, for example, a trade mark they already own or have rights in.
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