Every startup or a small company has many things to focus on, and IP is probably not on top of their list. Why? Usually, small business owners focus on sales, crunching numbers, and productivity to ensure its survival. With the marketplace bursting with innovative ideas and concepts, it’s more important than ever to protect your IP, thus ensuring that others won’t steal your idea.
Intellectual property rights are precious for any small business owner. If you want to manage your assets successfully, it’s crucial to understand how they work. And in this short guide, we’ll explain how IP works and what you should know about IP protection.
Get Acquainted with Trademarks
A trademark can be everything from a logo, symbol or a product’s name, or anything related to the service your product is providing. Once you establish a trademark, you’re provided with a right to ownership and notify the public that it belongs to you.
For example, if it’s a logo, no one else can use it unless they agree with you. Google Alert can also help you keep an eye on your trademark and inform you if someone starts using it on their website, blog, or social media accounts.
Trademarks get protection from the state or federal government, and if someone else wants to register a similar or the same product, their application will be denied. Trademark owners also have a right to hire a service to monitor all trademark registries for anything suspicious like copycats or look for domains on sale.
At CamutiLaw.com, you can consult with lawyers with hands-on experience with intellectual property that will provide you with useful advice on the legal steps necessary to protect the core of your business.
Copyrights and Patent Protection
Any original work of an author is eligible for copyright protection. Usually, people associate copyrights with writing, music, or art, but they’re very present in the gaming industry, coding, and apps. Copyrights start when the creator is still in its process. However, only when you have the final product, you can complete the process and protect all its essential elements.
We can place all patents into two distinctive categories: utility and design patents. The first group refers to inventions that create measurable results like machines, engines, or other mechanical devices. On the other hand, a design patent protects artistic design with unique characteristics or manufactured in a specific way.
In the U.S., every patent should go through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that gives the owner the right to rule out anyone else from making and offering a product for a specific amount of time. Usually, it lasts for 20 years if it’s a typical utility patent, but it can go up to 70 years if it’s a specific product.
After registration, if someone starts infringing your copyrights or patents’ trademarks, you’ll have to hire an attorney to begin communicating with the infringer and begin the process of removing their content. In some cases, you might even end up in court.
Protect Your Trade Secrets
A trade secret is highly confidential information. Since every company has financial plans, development strategies, and many other documents, one of the best ways to protect them is to develop strict confidentiality policies and restricted access structures to keep all the information protected.
All your independent contractors we well as business partners, have to sign NDAs to protect the information. Trade secrets protection extends to unlimited duration, and every startup should make it their priority if they care about protecting their valuable software, machine design, or even a game script.
With a trade secret, your product will be safer than with patent protection in a lot of ways. Firstly, to patent a product will be a costly endeavor that can’t guarantee that someone else will copy your project now that it’s public. And second, a patent has a limited duration, while a trade secret extends indefinitely.
Stay in the Loop
Without identifying and protecting your product’s name with trademarks, a website with copyrights and technology, or a machine with trade secrets, your business won’t last. These are necessary steps to ensure that no one can steal something you’ve spent years building and perfecting.
By protecting your IP from the start, you’ll be able to plan your company’s future as well as survive the most critical development phase. Now that you’re more familiar with the basics of IP and all the strategies to protect it make the right decisions and always stay in the loop when it comes to intellectual property rules and regulations.