Intellectual property covers new or original inventions, discoveries, designs, creative work, or ideas an individual or group produces. In the past, protecting intellectual property wasn’t much of a deal.
But, with information being easy to access and distribute due to technology, it is now vital that businesses protect their intellectual property from thieves, copycats, and infringers.
Protecting your intellectual property prevents it from being stolen or copied. It also creates an incentive so that whatever you make can multiply and benefit more people without violating your rights.
So read on to find out what you should do to protect your intellectual property.
1. Apply for a Patent
If you live in Columbus and you have created a new or novel chemical composition, equipment, the machine, or product, you can protect this invention by filing for a patent with the USPTO. A patent is backed by the law to stop others from using or selling your invention in any way without your license.
To do this, you only need the help of Columbus-based patent attorneys. Several types of patent processes and conditions are required for the kind of invention you create. Moreover, your attorney will help you identify which patent best fits your invention.
Generally, most patents are valid for about 20 years from the filing date. After this period, the product will go into a patent-pending process, so you would need to renew it.
2. Make a Confidential or Licensing Contract
Some business owners have the vital information they want to protect from getting to the public. For example, you might be creating an app and don’t want the details to come out before you launch it.
In such an instance, you would ask the app creators and others working on the project with access to the information to sign a confidentiality agreement. This will help protect your intellectual property.
Attorneys prepare confidential agreements. They bind workers and employers to abide by your demands and ensure confidentiality. In case of any leaks, such persons would be held liable. Confidentiality agreements are also called several names, including:
- Non-disclosure agreements (NDA).
- Secrecy Agreement (SA)
- Proprietary Information Agreement (PIA)
- Confidential disclosure agreement (CDA)
On the other hand, licensing provides a third party the authority to use your products for distribution or branding. For example, Disney gave licenses to distributors and toy makers to create its popular merchandise.
But, the licensor will define the parameters by which the third party can use the intellectual property. Licensing covers various things, so you must consult with an attorney to ensure that you protect all areas of your intellectual property written in the licensing agreement.
3. Avoid joint Intellectual Property Ownership
Two people can create intellectual property. An example is a company with a development and research team. On the other hand, joint intellectual property ownership would give more than one party control of the patent, trademark, or copyright.
The owning parties might distribute, recreate, copy or do anything with the intellectual property without consulting other parties. This might result in the exploitation of the joint intellectual ownership right.
Enforcing a joint intellectual property might need the participation of every owner at all times. In the United States, for example, joint owners must be present in a patent hearing before the legal process starts. Additionally, benefits and profits must be shared by the joint owners, and this can create complications.
You can reduce some of these problems through specified conditions in the contract. However, there are too many issues surrounding joint intellectual property ownership, which can cause more than just protecting intellectual property.
It would be best for a single party to own the intellectual property, even if it was a collaborative effort. To establish this, the parties involved must consult with their attorneys and draw an agreement.
4. Apply Security Measures
Most businesses in today’s world are conducted using the internet or technology. The upside is that technology can cause growth and improve business operations.
On the downside, if your business intellectual property is stored in a system or connected online, you might be vulnerable to hacking or other technical issues.
This is why you need to take measures to protect your business by implementing security measures in your company’s IT framework. These measures might include:
- Encrypting your data if your files are shared in your business IT system.
- Setting up password protection for every business computer network.
- Creating a WI-FI Protected Access 2 (WPA2).
- Use virtual private network access(VPN).
Investing in dependable software tools for distributing and storing your files is an excellent way to protect your business. Big businesses usually hire a team of reliable IT experts to help create security measures. When using such experts, ensure you have them sign an NDA.
5. Register your Business
If you plan to open a business with your intellectual property, you can protect it by registering your business or the associated product. Doing this will help you secure the product even if you are in the planning stage of your business formation before others would put forward a similar product.
For example, Apple, the tech giant, didn’t own the domain name “apple.co.uk” till 2012 because it was for an illustration company. Allegedly, Apple had to pay a massive sum to the illustration company to own the domain name.
Your product and business names are included in your brand. Even in the case of a sole proprietor, it still helps secure your registration. It will also help you gain legal protection, which will make your intellectual property and your business separate from you. This is helpful in case you have legal issues.
Intellectual property is part of a business asset. It would help you separate your business from your competitors. Another benefit is that it creates an additional stream of income. That is, people who use your product have to compensate you.
So, you must protect your intellectual property from others and stop them from making, selling, using, or distributing it without your approval. The process might seem expensive, but the cost would be worth paying in the long run.
If you are still unsure about protecting your intellectual property, you should consult an attorney for guidance and advice.