Who the code applies to
Inventors Association's Code of Ethics
The objective with our Code of Ethics is to promote ethical practice between inventors and those providing products and services to inventors for profit.
The Inventors Associations cannot accredit any individual or company that provides services to inventors. The associations simply do not have the resources or systems to run an accreditation process. However...
All Corporate Members have agreed to abide by the Code of Ethics as a condition of their membership.
The code spells out:
- How Corporate members should behave.
- How the inventors using their services are expected to behave.
- What an inventor can do if a Corprorate Member does not abide by the Code.
- What the Inventors Associations can do if there has been a breach of the Code.
All Inventors Associations in Australia (including the Inventors Association of Australia (Victoria) Inc. adopted the Code of Ethics in 2007. In adopting the Code, it was agreed that no individual State association could change the code unilaterally. If any changes are deemed to be necessary, they shall be approved by all State Associations and adopted by all State Associations.
The Code of Ethics is a three-page document with detailed guidelines and explanations. If you would like a copy please contact the federal president.
Who the code applies to
The code applies to Corporate Members – Australian-registered companies, businesses, partnerships and sole traders with a commercial interest in investing in inventions, or in assisting inventors to develop, protect, manufacture, promote, license or sell their inventions. An application for Corporate Membership is an implicit commitment by the applicant to abide by the Association's Code of Ethics.
The code spells out when a breach of the Code of Ethics may be a cause for complaint. These may include:
- "non-compliance" – these are considered minor breaches. They generally occur without dishonesty or incompetence. They are often managed through the use of counselling and/or admonition;
- "unethical behaviour" - these are more serious breaches which could give rise to suspension, expulsion, and/or publication and withdrawal of the certain rights.
The procedures for suspension or expulsion of a member are provided in the Rules of the respective Inventors Association of Australia to which corporate member belongs.
The objectives of the code
- To promote ethical practice and to repress malpractice amongst inventors and inventor service providers.
- To settle disputed points of practice and to decide questions of etiquette affecting members of an association.
- To protect the interests of inventors through the promotion of improvements in service standards and business practices.
- To provide a basis for the Inventors Association to give preference to those companies that undertake to operate their businesses in accordance with this code.
- To provide a basis for the Inventors Association to monitor the business practices of Corporate Members for compliance with the code.
- To provide promotional opportunities for Corporate Member's services.
Code of Ethics
- Corporate Members should only perform work in areas of their own competence.
- Corporate Members shall not act in a fraudulent or deceitful manner.
- Corporate Members should be open and transparent in all matters relating to fees for services.
- Corporate Members should act promptly but only within the agreed scope of work.
- Corporate Members should respect their client's confidentiality and privacy.
- Corporate Members shall avoid engagements where there is a possible conflict of interest.
The code provides detailed guidelines for both corporate members and association members in the use of the code.
1) Corporate members should only perform work in areas of their own competence.
Corporate Members should:
- represent themselves and their abilities honestly to clients. If an assignment requires qualifications or experience not possessed by the Corporate Member, it should recommend that its client obtains further advice.
- ensure that any sub consultant or sub contractor it employs has the relevant qualifications and experience for the task.
- declare their qualifications and should provide capability statements and testimonials from former clients who are contactable on request.
- not represent themselves as patent or trademark attorneys unless they are registered under the Trademark Act.
Members shall neither falsify nor misrepresent their own or their associate's qualifications, experience and prior responsibility.
2) Corporate Members shall not act in a fraudulent or deceitful manner.
Corporate Members shall not:
- engage in fraudulent or dishonest practices nor knowingly continue in a partnership or collaborate with any person who has been removed from membership or whose membership of the Association has been suspended and not re-instated, because of unethical conduct.
- use an association with other persons, corporations or partnerships to conceal unethical acts.
3) Corporate Members should be open and transparent in all matters relating to fees for services.
Corporate Members should:
- provide their potential clients with details of any proposed scheme of work including the objective of the proposed work, the scope and proposed work procedures, a cost estimate, a time estimate, the possible consequences of any outcome and any risks to the client.
- at the request of the client, provide detailed or up-dated cost and timing estimates. Members should attach importance to loyalty and conduct the relationship in a spirit of good faith and open and transparent communication.
- advise their client when, in their reasonable opinion, a project appears unviable, the product or process could be dangerous to anyone in the community or there is a potential conflict with this Code of Ethics. If a client wishes to proceed nevertheless, the Corporate Member should clearly explain what the consequences could be and, if necessary, withdraw from the project.
- only seek financial compensation from a client for work undertaken for that client. Corporate Members neither solicit nor accept financial or any other consideration from material or equipment suppliers as a consequence of specifying their products, or from contractors, their agents or other parties arising out of work for which they are responsible.
- not undertake work on a basis that involves undisclosed fees or undisclosed remuneration.
Corporate Members shall
- not accept compensation, financial or otherwise, from more than one party for services on the same project, unless the circumstances are fully disclosed to, and agreed to by all interested parties.
- reveal the existence of any interest, pecuniary or otherwise, that could be taken to affect their judgement in advice given to a client.
- not solicit or accept financial or other valuable considerations, including free designs, from material or equipment suppliers for specifying their products.
4) Corporate Members should act promptly but only within the agreed scope of work, and shall keep the client informed on the progress of the work and possible cost variations and or delays. Variations in scope shall be approved by the client prior to execution.
5) Corporate Members should respect their client's confidentiality and privacy and not disclose any confidential information or trade secrets acquired in the course of providing their services, without the express prior permission of the client. On the completion of services the Corporate Member shall maintain confidentiality, shall not use any intellectual property gains in any manner, or use any trademarks, trade names, designs or procedures.
6) Corporate members shall avoid engagements where there is a possible conflict of interest. Corporate Members should always avoid assignments that may be perceived as a conflict between the interests of their clients, or their own private interests. If such a situation arises, members should inform their client(s) at the earliest opportunity and attempt to resolve it in a manner acceptable to all parties.
Complaints Against a Corporate Member
The main objective of this code is to protect inventors from unethical, illegal or unreasonable behaviour by companies purporting to be "helping" inventors.
There are usually two parties in every agreement and every argument. If an inventor expects a service provider to behave honourably, then he too must behave honourably.
The code sets out minimum behaviour standards for inventors who must:
- be cooperative and provide all the information required,
- get and understand a statement of the achievable outcomes and timeframes,
- give clear and timely instructions
- promptly reply to questions and requests for more information.
- settle accounts promptly and provide up-front payments when required in accordance with the inventor's instructions.
The code sets out procedures to be followed in case of a breach, which may include by direct negotiation with the service provider for minor breaches through to more serious breaches. In this event, the inventor should report the incident to the President of the association who shall investigate both sides of the incident and determine what steps should be taken. This may involve a caution, suspension or expulsion following the Expulsion Rules as set out in the Rules of Association.