Intellectual property (IP) is the lifeblood of any company. It refers to any work or product that developed out of an original idea. A few examples of IP include business names, product names, artwork, manuscripts, and other sensitive information that benefits your organization.
After pouring your efforts to develop your enterprise’s IP, you want your idea, product, or design to stay protected. This means that no one should use or benefit from your work without your permission. While certain intellectual property rights are automatic, you still need to take steps to safeguard your work. No one will proactively do this on your behalf.
Here are some of the ways to protect your IP:
Document Your Original Concepts and Content in Detail
When working on your creations, document them to prove that you’re the one who came up with the intellectual property. If your creations are online, for instance, use archiving software solutions to generate a digital record of your assets conveniently. If someone comes forward and questions or challenges the ownership of your creation, present the digital record as evidence of your ownership.
Understand and Register the Appropriate Intellectual Property Protection
When you register your creations, you place your claim into public view and discourage individuals from using your work for commercial gains. There are three common types of IP protection that give you exclusive rights to your work. These are:
- Copyright © – This symbol protects both intangible and tangible creative works. The great thing about copyright is that you don’t need to file for registration. The relevant copyright law automatically protects your work from the moment you create it. Take note, however, that copyrights aren’t permanent. They typically expire 70 years after the passing of the creator. When the copyright expires, the work enters the public domain. This means that anyone can use the work without needing to seek permission from the owner.
- Trademark ™ – Companies sometimes come up with catchphrases, logos, and designs as part of their overall marketing strategy and brand identity. If your organization just came up with a witty slogan or unique symbol that represents your brand, register your trademark online to protect your brand identity in the marketplace and discourage individuals from illegally using or copying the designs or text for their economic gain. Unlike copyrights, trademarks have no expiration date.
- Patent ® – When you file a patent, you legally protect your unique products or equipment from people looking to manufacture and distribute your invention without your permission. IP patents are usually valid 15 to 20 years from the filing date.
Defend Your Rights in Instances of Infringement
If you come across situations where people are infringing on your intellectual property, take action as soon as possible. A few of the options at your disposal are:
- Send a cease and desist letter demanding the violator to discontinue using your work.
- (If the infringement occurred online) Send a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice to the violator.
- Go to the courts and request an injunction to prevent the infringer from making or selling your patented product.
- File a lawsuit with the help of a reliable IP lawyer.
These suggestions help protect your IP from opportunistic saboteurs. Although safeguarding your intellectual property might look like a costly and time-consuming process, the process is well worth the time, effort, and energy. After all, your IP might be the edge that sets your company apart from other businesses.