When you start a company, you choose a market or industry in which you aim to establish yourself and compete for consumer business. Protecting intellectual property, such as logos and company practices, is very important, especially during startup before your business has grown.
Here are 4 methods of protecting intellectual property:
A copyright protects original works that are expressed in a tangible form. People often associate this with artistic works, but software or architecture may also be protectable by copyright, which could be quite applicable to your company.
A work is automatically copyrighted as soon as it is put into a tangible form. There may, however, be benefits to registering for a copyright.
By registering for a copyright, your rights to the property are put on public record. In addition, the copyrighted material can be used as prima facie evidence, which means it is considered correct until proven otherwise.
A trademark is used to protect specific words or designs, such as your slogan and logo. Unlike a copyright, you must register for a trademark before your property is protected.
Trademarks are crucial for a business. Your logo will come to be associated with your brand and it can inform consumers about what they are getting. If you do not register for a trademark, another company could use your design or attempt to trademark your intellectual property for themselves. This could really hurt your growth and your company’s reputation.
A patent protects new items or processes that you have invented. Like a trademark, you must register for it to receive intellectual protection. Once you have a patent, you have exclusive rights to the item or process and you can prevent others from using it. This can help your business by preventing your competitors from recreating your unique product or service.
A trade secret can be a product, device, company practice, method of production or other techniques your business uses. The difference between trade secrets and the protections listed above are that trade secrets are unpatented, operate at the state law level and are hidden from the public eye. However, if a trade secret is compromised and revealed publicly, it is no longer protected.
There are a few ways you can protect trade secrets. Confidentiality agreements and contracts giving consent to track company device use can help protect your secrets and create an understanding of how seriously you take the situation. It is also crucial to keep any company devices or other sources of sensitive info when an employee leaves the company.