In business, your brand is your most important asset. Accordingly, you must use every legal remedy available to ensure that it’s protected.
If you own a business, your intellectual property may one day serve as the most valuable asset for your company—if it isn’t already. For this reason, it’s important to take steps to secure your intellectual property as soon as possible.
For example, Amazon is one company that’s getting it right. Over the past ten years, the massive online retailer has expanded its patent portfolio from 1,000 patents to close to 10,000.
Early on, Amazon realized the importance of protecting intellectual property to help support company goals. Likewise, it’s important to protect your intellectual property right from the start. However, you might wonder, “What is intellectual property?”
To learn more about intellectual property and how to protect it, keep reading.
What Is Intellectual Property?
In the purest sense, intellectual property is an asset that you create with your mind. These assets might include:
• Visual art
• Written content
Depending on the medium, you’d file for a copyright, patent, or trademark to protect your intellectual property. All these protections fall under the umbrella of intellectual property law. You’d file an application for protection with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
United States Patent and Trademark Office copyright law gives intellectual property owners the freedom to express ideas. Patent laws protect the processes and methods of concepts. Meanwhile, trademark law protects the name and branding of creations.
Copyright and trademark laws promote an environment of creativity and innovation. The laws protect creators by granting exclusive control of intangible assets.
As an entrepreneur, your most valuable resources are time and money. If you operate a small business, intellectual property may not serve as one of your top priorities—at least not yet.
Most people think intellectual property is only a concern for large companies. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
As a small-to-medium-sized business owner, it’s important to acquire intellectual property ownership rights to protect your products and ideas. By securing your intellectual property rights now, you can safeguard opportunities in the future.
Is Your Intellectual Property Safe?
It’s important to protect your intellectual property. By doing so, you can ensure that it isn’t stolen.
There are a few common tactics that you can use to protect your intellectual property rights. These tactics include.
• Avoidance of joint intellectual property ownership
• Business, domain, and product name registration
• Confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements
• Copyright, trademark, and patent registration
• Cybersecurity measures
When people think about intellectual property protection, they most often think of copyrights, trademarks, and patents. These tools grant you an exclusive right to your creations.
However, there are other ways to protect ideas associated with your business. For example, you can register your business name in some municipalities.
It’s also a good idea to register your domain name, even if you don’t plan to launch a website. Eventually, you’ll want to establish an online presence.
However, some malicious actors make a career out of buying domain names that people didn’t think to protect. If this happens to you, you may have to pay a hefty fee or court fees to secure the rights to your own domain name.
On occasion, you’ll need to discuss points of your business that are sensitive. In this case, it’s important to establish a confidentiality or nondisclosure agreement. This kind of agreement is a binding contract where parties agree to keep the details of your discussions a secret.
Today, nearly every business does some part of their business online. Unfortunately, malicious actors take advantage of this access point. Resultantly, it’s important to secure your business network.
Finally, it’s possible for more than one person to create a single intellectual property. However, it’s best to avoid this kind of situation at all costs.
Joint ownership of a trademark product or any intellectual property is complicated. Ultimately, this kind of arrangement can create more problems than it solves.
Why It’s Important to Protect Intellectual Property
Over the last year, there’s been an explosion of counterfeit products entering the market. Counterfeit products represent only a small percentage of global trade.
Nevertheless, these illicit goods generate more than $1 billion in sales in America alone. For this reason, there’s been a considerable uptick in online reviews containing terms such as fake or counterfeit.
In some cases, counterfeiters duplicate products minutes after they’re released. This unfortunate occurrence happens commonly on sites such as Amazon and Etsy.
Counterfeiters take advantage of these kinds of platforms because they don’t screen sellers. Meanwhile, consumers have no idea they’re purchasing counterfeit goods.
Counterfeit products can do more than eat into your profit. They can pose a serious risk to consumers.
The government does not vet counterfeit products. For this reason, it’s highly likely that they’re unsafe for use.
Furthermore, consumers can fall victim to identity theft when purchasing counterfeit goods from unscrupulous retailers. When this happens, consumers are quick to leave negative online reviews. For this reason, counterfeit products can result in serious damage to your brand reputation.
Securing Copyrights, Trademarks, and Patents
It seems relatively straightforward to apply for a copyright, trademark, or patent. However, the process is considerably complex. You must make many legal decisions as you navigate the application.
Without experience, you can make unnecessary errors and have to pay expensive refiling fees. You may even find that your intellectual property application gets rejected.
It’s possible that you’re only considering protecting your intellectual property. Alternatively, someone may have infringed on your intellectual property rights. In either case, you can benefit from the experience of a trademark attorney.
Not all applications to register a trademark, copyright, or patent get approved. With a trademark attorney on your side, however, you’ll increase your chances of securing an intellectual property registration. Furthermore, a trademark attorney can help you submit your application quickly and efficiently.
Stay Informed About What Matters
Now you’ve learned the answer to the question, “What is intellectual property?” You also know more about how to protect intellectual property rights.
When it comes to running a business, however, there are always new things to discover. Accordingly, it helps to have a resource for the latest news, tips, and trends to help you run your business smoothly. Visit our business section for more great articles to help you get a leg up on the competition.