How to Protect Your Intellectual Property as a Small Business
You work hard to be creative in your small business and come up with unique ideas. It would be unfortunate to have someone else steal those ideas before you are able to claim them as your own. This is why you should always protect your intellectual property every step of the way. Here are some tips for doing that.
Learn About Intellectual Property
Intellectual property encompasses any creations you have made on your own, whether it is a logo or tagline you created for your business, or an invention you made that you intend to patent and sell. Intellectual property can be ideas, designs, music and movie media, names, sayings and phrases, images, and many more things. Consider all the unique ideas you have created that you have never seen anywhere else that could be considered intellectual property. If you want your name or business name to be tied to these ideas, you need intellectual property protection.
Know When to Get a Patent or Copyright
A common thing that business owners get confused by when discussing intellectual property rights is the difference between a patent and a copyright. It is important that you understand the distinction in order to know which one you need. A copyright will protect your ideas when they are in some type of physical form and already created, such as a form of media like a book, music, or video. It can also work with pieces of art that people can see in a physical form, such as digital media like logos and graphics. With a patent, it protects something that might not yet exist in physical form, since it relates to something you have invented.
Have All Employees Sign Privacy Contracts
A good way to protect your intellectual property rights is by making sure all people who know of your ideas don't share them with others. You are bound to share some ideas and inventions with your employees, since they might be helping along the way, doing research, and contacting the right people. Unfortunately, this puts you at risk of them accidentally spilling the beans before you have protected the property with a trademark, patents, or copyright. Make sure all employees sign a privacy and confidential contract that states they will face legal consequences if they share any of your trade secrets.
Get a Good Attorney
Any time you are going to file for a patent or copyright, you need to have a good lawyer. Look for a lawyer that specialises in intellectual property, as they will know what documentation you need, what forms to fill out, and how to increase the chances of having the application approved. You will work closely with them and discuss new ideas and inventions with them in order to continue protecting your intellectual property.