IP can cover inventions and innovations, trademarks, designs, and copyright works such as text, images, drawings and software, as well as confidential information (including algorithms and know-how) and data. BHP both owns IP and licenses IP from third parties. New IP is created every day in our operations through copyright in new documents or software code, innovations or discoveries from our exploration or research and development, and from working with our suppliers to improve or adapt their products.
Like other BHP property, IP rights have financial value and 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 or failing to follow necessary formalities for protection, such as registration.
Infringing other people’s IP could result in costly legal disputes that may impede our freedom to operate and damage BHP’s reputation.
What this means for you
You should always safeguard BHP’s IP, respect the IP rights of others (including suppliers and competitors) and take appropriate steps to manage infringement risks.
Never disclose BHP’s confidential information without authorisation, even if your employment or contract with BHP has concluded. If there is a legitimate reason to share BHP’s confidential information, such as where required to work with a supplier, obtain the prior approval of your line leader and a written confidentiality agreement with the other party.
To protect our IP and data, use BHP’s standard contracts when contracting suppliers wherever possible. Follow required approval processes if using any alternative terms.
Where new IP is created through innovations or improvements to our processes, keep the information confidential. If you are unsure if any other protection is required, seek advice from Legal. Only access a third party’s IP, if 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 develop or deploy new technology, always check whether a third party’s IP rights may be infringed.
• Enter into a confidentiality agreement before starting negotiations or any other engagement with a person outside BHP who may receive or access BHP’s confidential IP or information.
• Be aware of what information is confidential and comply with BHP’s Information Protection Framework (for example, classifying and marking documents). Only give confidential information to people who need to know it.
• Ensure onboarding processes confirm ongoing confidentiality obligations and that departing personnel have not retained any confidential materials.
• Use BHP’s standard contracts wherever possible when contracting with third parties, and only depart from BHP’s standard IP and confidentiality terms after obtaining appropriate internal approvals.
• Keep any new IP created, such as innovations or improvements to our processes, confidential and check with Legal if any additional protection is required.
• Ensure no third party IP rights may be infringed before you copy, share, develop or deploy new technology or processes. If unsure, seek guidance.
• Use a third party’s IP only 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.
• Disclose BHP’s IP without first obtaining permission from your line leader and, if the IP is confidential, making sure the recipient has a legal obligation to keep the information confidential (for example under a confidentiality agreement).
• Bring to BHP or use any confidential information, including documents or computer records, from prior employers or clients without their written permission.
• Share, copy or deploy a new technology or process without first ensuring you are not infringing a third party’s IP.
• Use third parties’ copyright materials (for example software, photographs, text, audio or video downloaded from the internet) or trademarks in materials you are producing including for use on BHP intranet sites, without first obtaining permission from the copyright or trademark owner.
Q: I am planning to work from home over the weekend on an important document but don’t want to carry my laptop home. Can I send the document to my personal email and then work on it from home on my personal computer?A: BHP data or intellectual property should always be protected by storing or sharing or publishing using BHP approved locations and applications, including when working from home. Do not transfer, publish, share, remove or delete BHP data or intellectual property from those approved locations without authorisation from your line leader.
Q: When I leave BHP can I take any of my work with me?A: As a general rule, any work you create that relates to our business or operations 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. Discuss the matter with your line leader or 2Up leader prior to leaving BHP.
Q: 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?A: 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.
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How to speak up
If you have questions about Our Code, speak to your line leader, 2Up leader, Ethics and Investigations, Compliance, Legal, Employee Relations advisor, HR Business Partner or contact EthicsPoint. Anyone who works with us, on our behalf, or is associated with us, can also access EthicsPoint.
Online: EthicsPoint online
Phone: EthicsPoint Telephone