Protecting Your Intellectual Property: A Step-by-Step Guide for Businesses
It gets harder and harder to stop people from stealing and copying your intellectual property, such as business concepts, as information becomes more widely available. Regardless of the size of your business—small and similar to a startup, or huge and well-established—protecting your intellectual property needs to be your top priority.
Exactly what is meant by intellectual property?
Despite being used so frequently, what does the word “intellectual property” actually mean? Intellectual property is fundamentally any creation that is the outcome of creative thought. Manuscripts, unique artwork, images, blog entries, essays, company names, product names, inventions, online courses, programs, and other private information that can help your business are a few examples. All of these assets are covered by intellectual property rights, which safeguard your original and creative work. Ensure that no one else may utilize any of your creative ideas, designs, or artwork without obtaining your consent. The good news is that numerous federal and state laws safeguard intellectual property.
How to Protect Your Intellectual Property
By putting a few crucial safety precautions in place, you can safeguard the priceless concepts, products, and information your business has to offer. If you follow these precautions, you should have a lower chance of dealing with intellectual property theft and you will be protected if your IP is stolen. The secret to protecting your creative assets is to take a holistic strategy for IP protection.
1. Keep business concepts and trade secrets private.
Talking about your intellectual property with others should wait until you have properly safeguarded it unless they have also signed a nondisclosure agreement. Be cautious about whom you give this important information, and avoid promoting your concept in any kind of public venue, like Kickstarter. You should consult with an attorney and execute customized non-disclosure agreements, particularly if you are in partnership.
2. Keep Detailed Records of Your Original Content and Concepts
Maintain thorough records, descriptions, plans, and drawings that attest to your original creation and ongoing development of your intellectual property. Should someone dispute that you are the legitimate owner of your trademarks and copyrights, this kind of evidence will be helpful. Because the first date of usage is crucial in IP cases, make sure you have further dates wherever you can.
3. Request a Trademark
You should register your idea’s trademarks as soon as you have a company name and logo.
4. File all Intellectual Property, Trade Secrets, and Creative Works.
Collaborate with your intellectual property lawyer to register the remaining assets in addition to your trademarks. Put all the information about your intellectual property down on paper so that you can register it and set it apart from any comparable concepts that may already exist. To establish a comprehensive and well-documented portfolio for intellectual property protection, it’s advisable to consider conducting an IP audit in conjunction with your attorney.
5. Put Money Into It
Keep in mind that anyone can steal your concept and develop it for themselves before you have taken legal steps to protect your intellectual property. However, the more likely you are to stop content and idea thieves, the better.
How to stop the theft of intellectual property
To stop others from stealing your intellectual property, you must install safeguards. You could still be able to stop someone from stealing your ideas if you haven’t registered or safeguarded your intellectual property, but you might not be able to seek monetary recompense.
There are two ways to avoid intellectual property infringement during the procedure, but it’s important to remember that registering your IP protection offers the strongest legal defense against impersonators and infringers.
1. Request to halt the infringement.
Requesting the cessation of the offending conduct is the initial step towards terminating an IP infringement. This is not a call to be frightening, but rather a warning. It clearly states that you are requesting that the receiver stop using or duplicating your work in any way, and it asserts your ownership claim over the pertinent property.
Example: You hold the publishing rights to your music that was included in a YouTube video by a well-known influencer. To protect your rights to intellectual property, you can request that YouTube remove the offending video. You probably won’t get any money back for your request, but the influencer will get a warning not to do the same thing again.
2. Take legal recourse
It could be necessary to take legal action against the offender if a cease and desist letter is ineffective or irrelevant to your allegation of intellectual property infringement. This action cannot be taken unless your work has already been registered and protected; if you want to take legal action, you will be required to register the contested work initially, and you will not be entitled to any compensation for any losses incurred before the registration of the work.
Example: You are the owner of a registered trademark that guards the marketing and branding of a well-known board game. When an online rival produces a product that looks similar to yours, you think it will confuse consumers. You may bring a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages and losses as well as an injunction to prevent the competitor’s product from being reproduced and sold.
IP protection stops accidental misusage (anyone who may inadvertently infringe your IP rights) and malicious actors (anyone who might try to willfully infringe your IP rights). If you have a lot of intellectual property in your firm, people who are trying to steal your ideas to gain money are probably going to attack you.
By registering your intellectual property and consulting with an intellectual property lawyer, you can safeguard the expressions of your ideas against theft and make sure that your work is best protected.
You might be much more in possession of intellectual property than you think. To safeguard your rights, you must find a qualified lawyer to help you identify, register, and record your intellectual property. The money you invest now will pay for itself when you grow and make money from your IP portfolio and when defending what is rightfully yours if issues arise later.