A lot of money is tied up in intellectual property nowadays. The most obvious ones are the various movie franchises that earn billions. But intellectual property can be small, too. For example, the brand slogan for a company can be trademarked. The recognition factor of the slogan can help in marketing and earn a lot of profits.
But if someone steals the slogan and uses it, the recognition factor might help a business. Your business can be on both sides of the situation, so here are some tips:
Always Do Research
The problem with a lot of companies is that they sometimes move too quickly. For example, a T-shirt company might be in such a hurry to sell products with creative heat transfer designs without ensuring that it is completely original. If there is anything that can protect your company from mistakenly infringing on someone’s intellectual property, it is diligent research.
Before releasing any product that uses something you did not make, whether it is a process or a design, you should know the exact source of where it is from. This information will allow you to contact the original IP holders and request a license or permission. Never assume that something is in the public domain.
Know Your IP
On the other hand, you should also be able to identify your intellectual property. Several items can be considered yours when it comes to IP. It is not just products you create. Intellectual property can cover the process of making them, especially if they are unique. Information that is essential to your business like client lists can also be considered as intellectual property. Work with an IP lawyer to identify what can be considered yours under the law so that you can get the appropriate protection.
Create Your Own
The most effective way to avoid any IP infringement for your business is to create original IP of your own. This completely avoids a lot of the problems that you might face when it comes to infringement. However, it is not easy. You’ll need to hire creative and skilled people to create the original IP that you will be using, It can get expensive but it can be worth it. Investing in original IP can help earn you more money in the long run since you don’t have to pay licenses and other fees.
Get The Proper Protections
If you are making original intellectual property, then you should also be getting the right legal protection for them. There are four main types that you can register your IP under. First, there is copyright. This is for original artistic works like books, music, and video. If your company is a creative company, this is what you would focus on. Next, there are trademarks. This is for brands that are used to identify goods. You’ll likely be getting this. If your company has a unique invention or process, then a patent is what you will need.
Finally, trade secrets are those IPs that are considered proprietary info. Only you should be using them and they provide an advantage in your particular industry.
Educate Employees About IP
Your employees also need to be familiar with the basics of IP law. Most of the time, when a business infringes on an IP, the reason is that an employee got lazy and copied something on the internet. Be strict about educating your people about infringement so that you can prevent problems from happening.
Additionally, your employees are also your biggest defense against anyone from stealing your IP. Educating them about the importance of company secrets is essential. They should be taking steps to protect your IP from being shared or stolen.
Keep Complete Records
If there is anything that your company should do when it comes to intellectual property is to have complete records on all the ones you own and use. For example, if you have copyrights, patents, and trademarks, you need to have the official documents or copies of them in your records. Additionally, if you got permission to use someone’s intellectual property, you also need a copy of the contract.
This can be a great help in proving or disproving any claim of infringement. For example, if you don’t have a copy of the patent, you won’t be able to sue someone for violating it. The court will assume that the infringement was an innocent mistake and had no malice to it.
Intellectual property is a big part of any business. Whether it is to avoid violating it or protecting your IP rights, awareness of IP law is important. Avoiding problems with IP can benefit any company so the tips above should be a big help.