Don’t think your small business intellectual property is at risk? Think again. If you’re a small business owner, even if you don’t depend directly on your ideas or artistic creations to generate income, you should be protecting your IP.
What is small business intellectual property?
Intellectual property is actually a pretty broad designation—anything from your business’s name to the blueprints for your next project can be considered valuable IP. In short, intellectual property is anything you’ve created. It can be your products, your marketing materials, your logo—anything that you’ve created and pertains to your business. And you need to protect all of these things.
There are three primary ways you can protect your small business intellectual property.
Patents come into play when you invent or discover something. Let’s say you invent a new way to can soda that makes it last twice as long on the shelf. You must have a patent in place if you wish to protect yourself. Without one, you cannot prevent others from producing, selling, or using your invention or discovery. You won’t be able to sue them.
Filing a patent can be a long process. Working with a qualified patent attorney can help you get the results you want.
If you or your business creates original artwork, music, or writing, you’ll want to learn a bit about how copyrights work. Technically, you gain the rights to a creative work the moment of creation, so you aren’t required to register your copyright to gain the rights that come with it. However, registering your copyright will make enforcing it easier because once you file with the U.S. Copyright Office, your ownership of the intellectual property becomes public record.
You should note that a copyright does not last forever. The work of an author, for instance, enters the public domain 70 years after the author’s death. At that point, anyone can use it. Furthermore, copyright does not protect an idea but rather the way an idea is presented.
What about your company name? How about your logo? Can you prevent others from using them? Yes, you can. With a trademark, you can protect names, symbols, and designs that distinguish your company or brand. What’s the advantage of registering your trademark? It’s easier to protect yourself.
You will have to make sure that you keep up with registration updates at regular intervals.
Is your small business intellectual property protected? Give us a call to learn more. 305-441-9530