How to protect Intellectual Property in your SME


The Importance of Intellectual Property for SMEs

You have identified a gap and have begun filling it. Before you know it, your success is building faster than you can keep up, and somehow your competitors have caught wind. An established business uses your idea and starts fulfilling consumer needs with the resources you don’t have. What can you do?

As a small business owner, the options are lacking unless you have legally protected your idea. Sadly, most entrepreneurs ignore the protection of registering intellectual property and chalk it up to an expense they are not able to cover just yet. And, surely, it isn’t necessary just yet?

Entrepreneurship is a tough cookie to crack, but it is never too soon to protect the potential of your ideas, designs, models, and branding. Registering your intellectual property prevents copycats, improves investor interest and becomes an invaluable asset to help grow your business.

Start Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Your intellectual property should be registered in the early stages of your business’s startup and can be categorised into four types:


Copyrighting is popularly associated with protecting music, art, and writing, but it extends to other works, including manuals, software coding, computer programmes and more. This protection is given to the creator of the original work to prevent copying and reproduction without permission. Copyrighting does not need to be registered, however, it is a valuable asset that can be sold.


Patenting is used to protect conceptualisation. In South Africa, patents prevent others from manufacturing, using or selling your invention. This form of intellectual property protection is valid for up to 20 years and has a list of creations it is not suitable for.

Design Registration

The unique shape, form, pattern or configuration of an invention can also be registered to protect recreation. In South Africa, two designs can be registered for intellectual property protection. This includes aesthetics, which refers to an original design and is judged by its shape, and functional, which refers to a new design vital for the functioning of a product.


Trademarking refers to protecting names, slogans and logos to prevent others from using them or something similar. The CIPC (The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission) is responsible for trademark registrations.

Should any of these forms of intellectual property registration be relevant for your business or its service offering, be mindful of registering in a timely manner to avoid unwanted infringement.

MMS Cloud Accounting is a business accounting and taxation services provider, specializing in services for the South African SME market.  If you are interested in engaging with a team of professional accountants that sees beyond your numbers, reach out to us.