For John Groppoli, one of 4 directors of the Dome Group of Companies, the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans is the smell of intellectual property. The Dome Group have developed a comprehensive IP strategy that flows into almost every aspect of day-to-day business.
This aggressive approach to IP is rare throughout Australian industry and, in fact, was not a feature of their early days in business. It wasn't until Groppoli, also a partner in the high profile firm of Deacons Graham and James, was appointed a director, that IP gained its current prominence in business operations.
According to Groppoli,
"For whatever reasons, there is this myth that "intellectual property is patents", or "intellectual property is high tech", so most business operators are very removed from the concept of intellectual property and intellectual property rights. They just don't see it as relevant to their operations."
For the board of directors of Dome, the first step was to identify their IP assets, then take the necessary steps to protect and manage those assets. Their strategy includes:
- registering trade marks in Australia with IP Australia and overseas for nation-wide monopolies in specific goods and services classes;
- registering their business name in each Australian state and territory. This move saves on inadvertent infringement and the subsequent cost of following up on infringement;
- acknowledging trade secrets. These are protected through confidentiality agreements with franchisees and employee agreements, and stipulate the consequences of abusing this privileged information;
- placing copyright notices on all written material, including press releases, marketing materials, training manuals and so on. Also formal, written assignment of copyright to Dome, for logos, press releases and ads created externally;
- active and regular monitoring of abuse of their intellectual property in the marketplace, including searches of IP Australia's registered trade marks database, state business and national company names registers, new telephone listings and the Internet. When breeches are found, a letter is immediately sent to the infringing part from John Groppoli;
- and protecting their franchise image, which includes a style guide for ways franchisees can use their registered trade marks. Franchisee contracts also contain clauses prohibiting the use of the Dome name in franchisee company names. This includes the production of Dome Cafes in kit form for overseas franchisees to ensure the integrity of the Dome "look".
This case study has been compiled by IP Australia.