Intellectual property law

How to Protect Your Small Business’ Intellectual Property

If you are the owner of a newly founded small business with plans on profiting from your artistic endeavors or inventions, you must learn how to safeguard your intellectual property (IP) as soon as possible. IP is basically any original work or invention that your business has personally developed, including your products, logo, business name, designs, and marketing materials.

Safeguarding your IP will help prevent it from being copied or used by others. In the event that others do copy your IP, you have legal recourse. If you have not consulted a business attorney in Salt Lake City yet, below are three primary ways to protect your IP.

Copyrights

These cover all original artistic or creative works like art, writing, and music, including the text you create for your marketing materials and online content. Registering a copyright is voluntary, but your works will be safeguarded if they are under a copyright.

Do note, though, that copyrights do not last forever since they will only cover your presentation of ideas and not exactly the ideas you presented. Any IP with a copyright will be entered into the public domain automatically 70 years following the death of the author.

Patents

These prevent other people from selling, using, or making your original discoveries or inventions. While you are not required to get a patent, if others sell, use, or make your inventions, you cannot sue them.

It is important to note that filing patents take a lot of work and know-how. If you are confident you can do it by yourself, you are free to do so. Otherwise, it is best to work with a lawyer.

Trademarks

lawyers signing a documentThese are for protecting designs, symbols, or names that distinguish the work’s owner. These include your business logo and name. Filing a trademark is not voluntary, but you can enhance your rights if you file trademarks and legally establish your company as the sole users of your logo, name, marks, or symbols.

Patents, copyrights, and trademarks are three of the most useful and practical tools you can use for safeguarding your IP. But there are many other ways to protect your company’s intellectual property, including the following.

  • Utilize the right intellectual property designations. You can opt to use ©, TM, and patent pending for showing competitors that all your IP is sufficiently safeguarded. Take note, though, that the designations © and TM can be used even if you have not registered, but patent pending can only be utilized after you have applied for a provisional patent.
  • Make a record of all your business ideas with the use of drawings, photos, and prototypes. This will make it easier for you to obtain legal protection for your intellectual property in the future.
  • Use non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to prevent employees, business partners, and other people from revealing sensitive details about your business.

There are many ways to safeguard your IP sufficiently. It is, however, best to work with a knowledgeable lawyer to determine which IP needs protecting, help you file applications, and address potential violations from other people or organizations.

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