It is estimated that up to 75% of the value of a business is in the form of intangible assets, such as intellectual property (IP). In a simple definition, Intellectual property is a type of intangible property that can take the form of a product, a process, or an idea. This includes inventions, creative works, words, shapes, sounds, and images used in a product or service. Some of the few ways you can protect your intellectual property from potential competitors include copyright, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets.
If you don’t protect your intellectual property and someone else steals it, then they will have control over how you make money off it and this could have negative consequences for your business. Protecting your Intellectual Property Assets is, therefore, essential to safeguarding the future of your business. This article will dive into detail about everything you need to know about safeguarding your IP.
How Can I Go About Protecting My IP?
There are several important steps you can take to safeguard your business intellectual property. For starters, determine whether you have a right to protect your IP. If you have not yet done this, get a lawyer and a patent attorney to help you. You will need to look at the IP framework in your jurisdiction and determine if you have a claim to any IP. The laws and protective scope vary widely from country to country.
Second, once you have determined that you have a right to protect your IP, you need to register it. The most common defensive strategies are copyright, filing for a patent, and a trademark. Copyright law protects original works of authorship such as books, music compositions, and paintings. Trademark law protects brand names and logos. Whereas Patent law protects inventions like new machines or drugs from being copied by competitors without permission.
For patents, you will want to be prepared to file a patent application before you release a beta or even an alpha version of your software. Patent applications typically take several months to a year to process, so you will need to start this early. Trademarks and copyrights do not have the same time requirements, but these protections are still a good idea to get.
The next step is to build a system for using your IP to discourage copying and investigate potential copying. You first need to identify potential copyists and their customers. Some customers are very likely to be using your IP without permission if a competitor is using it.
In your investigation, you will need a lawyer to help you identify potential infringers and the kind of evidence you will need. You will also likely need a legal letter, called a cease-and-desist letter, to be sent to the potential infringer. Lastly, you need to determine what the potential financial loss is from the potential exposure and decide if you want to do something about it. If you decide to do something about it, you then need to develop a plan for how to address the exposure.
Everything you do leaves a digital breadcrumb, and if you’re not careful, your intellectual property can be exposed. The first and obvious step in protecting one’s intellectual property is understanding what in your business needs to be protected. Depending on the type, you can protect your IP in a few ways including patents, trademarks, and copyrights.