Entrepreneurs and business owners – if you’ve ever developed a new product or formulated a new business idea, you’ve likely questioned if you should protect it legally.
After working hard to develop your intellectual property, you need to protect it to remain competitive and be successful. Many don’t know why, how and when to protect their products.
The most common ways to protect your IP is through patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.
Patents – Used to protect manufacturing or design processes.
Trademarks – Used to protect brand logos, company names, phrases, and symbols.
Copyrights – Used to protect original works, such as art or literature.
Trade Secrets – A formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, method, or information that is generally not known.
Here are some tips on utilizing these methods:
- Establish a policy for all of your intellectual property
- Keep in mind that filing a patent gives information on how to create a product or service, and that someone can use that to create a knockoff.
- If you are selling a commonly used item, it is likely that you wont qualify for a patent. A Trademark is your best bet.
- Before registering your trademark, search the federal and state databases to make sure a similar trademark doesn’t already exist.
- Protection with a Trade Secret lasts only as long as you control disclosure and use of the information.
- File a patent as fast as you can, because it can take years to issue.
- When you have received a copyright, begin using the copyright symbol immediately to inform others.
- Consult with a lawyer just to be safe.
To sum it up, an established plan for your intellectual property keeps you protected and ensures the future of your business.