Intellectual property includes inventions and original work or products that are owned by your company. Intellectual property (IP) can sometimes seem intangible to some small businesses, but it does include written works, logos, products, design, systems and more. However, to ensure you are protecting your intellectual property, you have to actively work on it.
For some work, you’ll need copyright or a patent. Copyright happens the moment you create the IP, and you don’t really have to do anything else. If you prefer to apply for a copyright through the government for each thing you want a little extra information for, you can, but you don’t have to do it.
A patent will prevent other people from making your product, and it is required if you want to protect it. It happens with secret recipes, formulas, and other products - usually physical in nature. Patents are expensive, and the truth is, another company can still copy you and call it something else because it’s super-hard to prove. Also, when you do create a patent, you have to give your secrets to them.
Develop a Policy and System
To get something done right, it will help if you do it the same way each time. If you want to buy a copyright for each blog post you write, you can, but you don’t really need to. Instead, simply write that it’s copyrighted on each thing you create - whether a book, art, or something else.
Create Legal Contracts
When you work with others, especially creatives, you’ll want to ensure your business owns the copyright to their work. Put it in each contract that they sign so that they know any work they create is owned by your company.
Check Your Creations to Ensure Originality
When you create something or someone makes something for you, don’t assume it’s original. Even if no one meant to copy it, it can happen. Always check before you claim copyright that something is indeed original.
Hire an Expert
If you are dealing with a lot of products that need copyright and patent protection, you’ll want to ensure that you work with a good lawyer or another expert in intellectual property. Then you can simply let them deal with it for you.
Record All Your Evidence
As you are creating something new, document how you’re doing it - including timestamps on computers and other methods for proving the timeline of creation. This can help if you ever do need to go to court to prove your copyright.
Apply for a Patent Here and Abroad
If you’ve determined you need a patent to protect your IP, don’t assume it’s protected just by getting one in your own country. Check international laws regarding it to ensure you’re protected fully.
Copyright Your Material
Your art, writing, and thoughts that you put down are already protected, but for added protection you can apply online for about 35 dollars and up for copyright protection for your works. This is additional protection since works that require copyrights are already protected just because you say it is.
Prosecute Anyone Who Steals Your Intellectual Property
This is the primary key to protecting your IP. If you find out that anyone is violating your IP, you need to act each time - legally. If you don’t work to actively enforce copyright, you can lose it. That means if you think a new business is using your IP illegally, you need to ask them to stop via letter and hire an attorney if needed to enforce your rights.
No one wants to lose control of their own name, business identity, and product, but it does happen when unscrupulous people use someone’s intellectual property without the right to and you don’t call them to task legally if you can. Create a plan to protect yourself, and you’ll experience far fewer problems when word gets around that you don’t play when it comes to your intellectual property rights.