Every business has its own intellectual property. Most of the time, this constitutes the unique methods, services, or products that your business is offering to clients. It could also include a brand logo and website content.
Did you know that your company’s intellectual property (IP) can be more valuable than your physical assets?
Protecting your assets means keeping your intellectual property safe as well. The overall value of your business is directly affected by how much you protect your assets. In most cases, the security you have in place can enhance your company’s worth.
Here are effective ways to keep your IP safe from being used by other companies or people who are not directly part of your business:
1. Protect Your Property’s Name
Brand awareness is important to make your business successful. Your unique brand name identifies you from a myriad of similar companies who over the same products or services. This applies as well to a specific product you’ve created or innovated.
Trademarks can give your brand, product, or service names, sounds, or symbols 10-year protection upon registration. You can extend it perpetually later when you renew it.
2. Go with Distinctive Rather Than Descriptive
In line with trademark protection discussed above, you should also choose to trademark a distinctive symbol rather than a descriptive name – think Apple or McDonald’s. The value of their symbols is heftier than the name of their brand. In fact, these brand names are part of our common language so they can just as easily be used in other forms of media.
3. Know the Categories of Intellectual Property
Intellectual property has four legally-defined categories. Violation of any of these is subject to prosecution and litigation settlement.
- Patent makes you or your company as the sole legal owner of any tangible object. You can hold a patent for 20 years.
- Copyright protects an idea or creative expression that’s affixed to a certain medium.
- Trademark, as you’ve already learned earlier, protects a brand name or a symbol.
4. Employees Matter a Lot
Your employees play a major part in protecting your intellectual property. Making them aware of your copyright, trademark, and patents can help prevent any future leakage.
You can increase their awareness the moment they join your company with a comprehensive and solid employment agreement. Confidentiality and non-competition terms can provide enough protection in some cases.
5. Time Your Disclosure
Don’t do product launches or press releases before you’ve covered your bases. You should apply for a patent first before disclosing your new product. Filing for a patent is on a first come first serve basis. The first applicant of a patent is always considered as the inventor, and thus, the rightful owner.
6. Cover Your Business Partners
Similar to the employment agreement, you need to make sure that your business partners, consisting of consultants and vendors are covered by an agreement as well.
Even if you have to pay them for their services for manufacturing specific parts, make sure that all rights are transferred to you after providing the services. Preventing them from disclosing even your prototype can protect your intellectual property effectively.
7. Prioritize Your Intellectual Property
Cost-benefit analysis and risk assessments are important in helping you determine which assets you need to prioritize when protecting. Spending time and effort protecting an asset that no one is really interested in, even your competitor, is an inefficient way of using resources.
It’s pretty much applying the Pareto principle of 80/20. Always give priority to protecting assets that would keep the cogs turning in your business.
8. Be Vigilant of Your Competitors
It’s normal for you and your competitors to have a trademark that is nearly identical since you’re both working in the same space. Be aware of the minute variation of your patented invention. Sometimes your competitors might even make it look like that you’re the one who stole the idea.
Vigilance and awareness is the key. Remember that there’s always an opportunity to challenge the validity of recent patents, as well as contradicting two almost identical trademarks.
Keep Your Intellectual Property Well-Protected
There are many ways to protect intellectual property. However, there are also many ways that it can be violated. If you discover some infringements on your intellectual property rights, you can always consult with experts in the field like Judge Ruben Castillo, whose expertise includes Antitrust and Intellectual Property.