Intellectual property

We need all of our employees to safeguard BHP’s intellectual property. We also expect employees to respect the intellectual rights of others.

Intellectual property (IP) rights cover a variety of things, including inventions and innovations, trademarks, designs, and copyright in things such as text, images, drawings and software. IP can also refer to information or ideas that are confidential and commercially valuable, and also to data.

BHP both owns IP and licences IP from third parties. New IP is created every day in our operations. This can be copyright in new documents or software code, innovations or discoveries from our exploration or research and development, or from work done with suppliers to improve or adapt their products.

IP rights have financial value just like other BHP property. IP also has strategic value: we can stop others from copying BHP’s IP or we can obtain a licence to use other people’s IP in our business to gain a competitive edge.

The value of our IP can be lost by:

  • improper disclosure or use;
  • inappropriate contractual terms;
  • failing to follow necessary formalities for protection, such as registration.

Misusing other people’s IP could result in costly legal disputes that may impede our operations and may also damage BHP’s reputation.

Expectations and resources

  • Our expectations of you

    You should always:

    • safeguard BHP’s IP;
    • respect the IP rights of others (for example, our suppliers and competitors).

    To safeguard our IP, never disclose confidential BHP IP without authorisation. This applies during and after your employment with BHP. If there is a legitimate reason to share BHP’s confidential information — such as where required to work with a supplier — you must have your line leader’s prior approval and a written confidentiality agreement with the other party.

    You should always use BHP’s standard contracts when contracting with a supplier unless Legal has approved alternative terms. If you create new IP, such as innovations and improvements to our processes, keep it confidential and ask Legal if any other protection is required.

    If you access a third party’s IP, only use it as permitted in writing by that party (for example, in a contract with a supplier), or otherwise as permitted by law where you have advice from Legal. Before you copy or share something provided by a third party or deploy new technology, always check whether a third party’s IP rights might be infringed.

  • Where to go for help
    • Your line leader or 2Up leader
    • Legal
    • EthicsPoint



  • Use our assets for their intended purpose.
  • Protect our assets from waste, damage, misuse, loss, fraud and theft.
  • Report any potential waste, damage, misuse, loss, fraud or theft of our assets.
  • Prevent non-authorised personnel from accessing our facilities, information, data or other assets, where possible and safe to do so.


  • Use BHP’s assets for personal gain.
  • Take physical property or information assets belonging to BHP for personal use.
  • Enter into any fraudulent or illegal transactions or fail to report any fraud you are aware of.
  • Take any action that undermines the integrity of vendor or customer data in our systems.
  • Permit unauthorised entry to a BHP site or office or access to our information technology.
  • Ignore security complaints or an inadequate security procedure that may present threats to either BHP employees or assets.

Example questions and answers

Office employee at desk

Intellectual property

Question - When I leave BHP can I take any of my work with me?
  • Show Answer
    As a general rule, any work you create that relates to the business or operations of BHP is owned by BHP and cannot be used outside of the Company. There may be limited circumstances where BHP will permit you to use that work product, but only with prior written permission and after any BHP information has been removed. You should discuss the matter fully with your line leader or 2Up leader prior to leaving the Company.
Three employees looking at part on a workbench

Copyright and patents

Question - An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has been providing spare parts for some equipment at a high price. I have been dealing with a low cost manufacturer and think they could make these parts at a much lower price. Can I give the low cost manufacturer some examples and ask them to make these parts for us?
  • Show Answer
    Engaging a third party to copy, make or supply these parts could involve risks such as infringement of copyright, patents or registered designs, or breaches of confidence or contractual obligations. While we should always seek to get parts at the best value price possible, we also need to respect any IP the OEM may have.

Related sections

 Report a concern


In person: Speak to your line leader, 2Up leaders or Human Resources representative


Online: EthicsPoint Online

Phone: EthicsPoint Telephone


BHP Business Conduct,
GPO Box 86,
Victoria 3001, Australia