Copyright matters


Intellectual property

‘Intellectual Property’ (IP) refers to “creations of the mind”: ideas and the expression of those ideas - literary and artistic works, symbols and names, and designs and inventions.

The term includes two separate categories –


Copyright protection applies to material expressions of an idea in works such as novels, journal articles, research papers, plays, films, musical works, paintings, maps, diagrams and sculptures, software and architectural designs – as well as a performer’s rights in their performances. 

  • Copyright gives authors and other copyright owners of original 'works' the exclusive right to reproduce, publish, communicate, and adapt their material; and to licence, transfer, or sell it to other people.
  • Copyright’s protection is free, automatic, and lasts for the author’s life plus 70 years.
  • There is a very low threshold of originality in copyright: almost anything that you write down, draw, photograph, etc. automatically qualifies as a protected work.


Industrial IP including patents

Patent protection can apply to inventions such as appliances and machines, business methods, computer-related inventions, micro-organisms, and so on.

  • Patent protection must be applied for and incurs costs both for registration and annual fees; protection lasts from 20 to 25 years depending on the invention.
  • A patent will only be granted to a device, substance, method, or process that is new, inventive, and useful.
  • An ‘innovation’ patent covers an addition or adaptation to an already existing invention: the new and different step must make a ‘substantial contribution’ to the working of the original invention. Protection is only available for 8 years, but can also be used as an interim measure to protect incremental development of invention.

Intellectual Property matters at Murdoch University are managed by the University's Intellectual Property regulations.