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“Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind: inventions; literary and artistic works; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Intellectual property rights are like any other property right. They allow creators, or owners, of patents, trade marks or copyrighted works to benefit from their own work or investment in a creation.”

Ensure that your company is the owner of IP used by your business or that you have the necessary licence to use a third party’s IP rights. As a general rule, except where you are using another party’s intellectual property under licence or in terms of a contract, all the IP that is being used by your company should be owned by your company.

Be sure that any individuals or contractors you hire will transfer their IP rights in writing to the company in the work they are doing and materials related to it. This is especially true when using graphic designers, technology or web developers and production facilities. This can be through appropriate terms and conditions being included in an employment contract, commissioning or consultancy agreements or a separate assignment.

Where an individual or contractor owns or is using rights that cannot be assigned, make sure that your company is given a licence to use these rights by the rights owner.

Very important: All of your company’s IP should be registered in its name, not the names of employees or directors. This includes domain names.

For help with reviewing the ownership and status of your IP, contact our experts at

South Africa’s leading intellectual Property Law Firm, Adams & Adams, has for a second year in a row, joined as a legal; and IP partner of the upcoming SA Innovation Summit in Cape Town, to be held from 12 – 14 September 2018. Adams & Adams, will be on hand to provide advice and assistance with regard to patents, trade marks, designs, copyright and trade secrets, non-disclosure documents (NDAs), Licensing and IP commercialization.


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