The ideas you create for your business are your own. The real question is how you protect your ideas from becoming the property of someone else. Copyrighted.com says it wasn’t always such a big deal to protect your intellectual property in the past, but the ease of access to information has changed the landscape for business owners. There are several ways to protect your intellectual property, though it may take a little research on your part.
What is intellectual property?
Copyrighted.com says intellectual property includes your original ideas, designs, discoveries, inventions, and creative work. Securing protection for your intellectual property will ensure your work is not stolen or copied, and it creates a way for others to benefit from your creativity without violating your rights.
A business’ intellectual property can be protected through copyrights, trademarks, patents, registering the business and domain name, and creating confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements for employees and partners. Protecting your intellectual property secures your brand’s identity and can increase your influence in your market.
Different types of intellectual property
Brand abuse is real. Courier says a study by Smart Protection found four out of five small businesses suffered from counterfeits and brand abuse on the internet. The top industries affected were fashion, electronics, sports, homeware, toys, beauty, and personal care. Entrepreneur digs deeper into some of the most common ways to protect a business’ intellectual property.
- Copyrights – A copyright gives the owner exclusive rights to distribute, replicate, or recreate content including visual designs, software, graphic designs, web content, and more. However, a copyright will not stop someone from independently or unintentionally creating the same or very similar work.
- Trademarks – Trademarks protect symbols including words, phrases, logos, and other visual identifiers that represent a brand or product. Trademarks can also protect original sounds, colors, and building designs. Trademarks can protect the uniqueness of a brand’s identity.
- Patents – Patents protect inventions, and include additional protection for the design process or actual product. A business will need to secure an attorney to obtain a patent. Patents typically last for 20 years.
How do you protect your intellectual property?
Just securing the proper documentation and legal work to protect your intellectual property may not be enough to keep your ideas and innovations safe. As Courier mentions, intellectual property protection is not an exact science, and you may find that there is no true way to protect your work from infringement fully. What you can do is take a closer look at what your business has created and make a strategic plan to ensure your work is protected. Courier says:
- Audit your assets. Find professional help or start working in-house to catalog all your intangible assets and how they are used.
- Reflect on your business’ position. Consider costs, the potential impact of intellectual property misuse, your business’ level of risk, and the state of the industry.
- Go over future plans. If you plan to expand geographically, you will need to consider how to protect your work wherever it is used.
- Update employee agreements. Intellectual property assignment agreements show that all work done for your business by an employee is owned by your business.
Do you have expertise in helping businesses protect intellectual property?
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