How to protect your ideas and creativity

Author: 2at
How to protect your ideas and creativity:
with Fiona Nguyen a.k.a Girl Friday IP

Taking what would otherwise be non-comprehensible legal-jargon and making it fun, interesting and palatable, Girl Friday IP is the Intellectual Property lawyer giving a fresh new makeover to the world of IP law, giving her some serious street credibility when it comes to all things protecting the creative ideas of small and big businesses alike!

We are collaborating with Fiona on an upcoming startup workshop in Melbourne, where we will spend the day with four other business founders going through the 101’s of starting your own business, and what it takes to build something that will succeed in a saturated marketplace.

So we wanted to ask Fi about what it takes to build a unique brand, create an authentic (and legal!) brand name, and the role of trademarking in business.

If you’re starting up in business and would love some guidance on where to begin, this interview is a super interesting and advice-filled session of things you can go away and action straight away for the benefit of your own small biz! How excellent.

Fiona Girlfriday IP
Let’s start with the first things first! Tell us about you! Who is the woman behind Girl Friday IP?


Sitting still has never been an option. Might be the only child thing, having to keep myself busy and entertained growing up. On the personal front, this means way too many interests and hobbies. Cooking, baking, photography and now my latest love – scuba diving. I’m also a crazy dog person and make no apologies for it! 

On the professional front, it’s meant a weird and wacky journey to end up where I am today. A younger version of myself had grand plans for a career in forensic science thanks to CSI and the magic of television.

Definitely did not have any plans for a career in intellectual property (IP). In fact, had no idea what IP was all about! But IP turned out to be a happy mix. I get to combine my creative interest with my technical skills and experience. It keeps me busy and I’m definitely never bored.

What an amazing journey you’ve been on so far! Throughout all of your different creative pursuits, what was it that ultimately galvanised you to take that leap, and begin your own biz?


My stint on the Great Australian Bake Off in 2016 really tickled my creative funny bone. I came back to my job at the time with a feeling of wanting more than a run of the mill 9-5 job. I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do, but just had a nagging feeling that there had to be more for me. Then after being told to “be more generic”, that sealed the deal. It was a sign that I wasn’t where I should be or deserved to be. I needed to do something I was passionate about, that was creative and importantly, allowed me to be myself. This is what Girl Friday IP is all about. (And to me being generic means sitting still – which doesn’t sit well with me. Pun intended)!

You are known and recognised for your creative and unique voice, taking a typically ‘boring’ legal-based subject matter and making it interesting and fun!- Where does the inspiration for this come from?


It all comes back to being super passionate about IP and being myself. No one likes legalese – me included!

No one will remember legal speak but everyone will remember a story. Storytelling is the most effective way to engage people – regardless of what industry you’re in.

“Boring” is just a matter of perception. I think the more “boring” a topic may be, the more fun you’ll have challenging people’s perceptions. Oh and I get to be really punny. Who doesn’t love a good pun?


Haha- we definitely do! Ok, so let’s get back to the basics, for those reading along who may not be aware-what exactly is intellectual property and how can I establish if something is ‘my’ intellectual property?


IP is where creativity and the law come to play. Most people think that IP is about protecting an “idea”. IP is the result of creative thinking but an idea or concept alone cannot be protected.
It’s the expression of the idea and concept can be protected through various IP rights. For example, different branding assets like a brand name, a logo, even a tagline, may be protected under trade mark registrations. On the other hand, an original artistic work such as a photograph, may be protected under copyright. Depending on the nature of your business, you may have many different IP assets. Identifying what the different IP assets are can then help you identify what may be protected. Then there’s people like me who can help you work out what the best protection strategy might be for your needs.


What are the costs involved in protecting my intellectual property and is it worth it?


The costs associated with IP protection really vary depending on the type of IP protection you need. People always ask if it’s really worth spending money on protecting IP. The better way to think of IP protection is: it’s an investment. Like anything else that you may have invested in for your business, for example, branding, product development etc, IP protection is something else worth considering investing in. It’s a commercial decision at the end of the day; if it’s important to your business then it’s worth investing in.


You’ve taken the legal world of IP and turned it on it’s head. What’s your advice for others who are wanting to ‘break out’ of the stereotypes of their own industry?


I think to break out of a mould or stereotype, you really have to look outside your industry. When you look to peers or competitors within your space, there’s a real risk of being influenced by them, even without you realising it. When you look for inspiration anywhere and everywhere else, you’re opening up options and ideas that are genuinely different and may not have been done before within your industry. Sounds like a cliche to think outside the box – so just bloody get rid of it altogether. Why be boxed in from the get go?

For those now thinking I’ve already started a business and haven’t trademarked my IP- is it too late?


It’s always good to have a think about IP protection early on in any business journey. With trade mark registration, it is possible to apply to register your brand name or logo after you have launched your business and started using it. But it’s always recommended that you do some homework before you run off and start using a name. It’s not just about whether you can register your own brand name – the important question to ask is whether you can actually use it. With other forms of IP protection such as patent and design protection – definitely have a chat about IP protection before you launch anything publicly. Otherwise you might find that IP protection boat has sailed.


Now that we’ve found out a bit about you, where can we learn more about Girl Friday IP?

Anyone looking to be GFFs (Girl Friday Friends), you’ll find Girl Friday IP on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @girlfridayip and for more detailed info, entertaining (and educational) blog posts, and handy enquiry forms, drop by and take a scroll on the website

And lastly, what’s your business and life motto?

Live, work and play with purpose. And puns.

startup workshop

Thanks so much for your time and for sharing with us Fiona! We loved chatting with you. 

If you’re thinking you may need to look more into the IP around your own business, Fiona a.k.a Girl Friday is speaking at our upcoming startup workshop in August, for more info click here.


Or find Fiona over on Instagram @girlfridayip

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