WHAT IS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OR IP?
IP is any original design, idea, creative work, invention, or discovery by an individual or group. You can own a song, book, mathematical system, digital process, workflow, operation, or anything intangible but profitable, and that will be your intellectual property.
Protecting your physical properties like a car from theft is straightforward - you need a secure garage, and you’ll avoid losing your asset. However, securing intellectual property can be complicated as they are not material.
Especially now that all information is easily accessible via the internet, your IP can easily be stolen and repurposed. If you have a business that has intellectual property, you must undertake strategies to safeguard your IP.
Here are TEN ways to safe-keep your intellectual property:
- Register Your Copyrights.
- Register Your Trademarks.
- Register Your Patents.
- Register Your Business and Product Names.
- Register Your Domain Name.
- Use confidentiality, non-disclosure, or licensing contracts.
- Secure Licensing Contracts.
- Protect Your Intellectual Property Online.
- Avoid Joint Ownership.
- Hire a Lawyer.
1) REGISTER YOUR COPYRIGHTS
Copyright© is used to protect tangible and intangible creative assets. While you own the copyright to your creation the moment, you created it, even if you don't register for a copyright, it would be easier to validate your ownership if you had it.
Every copyright expires 70 years after the owner's death, and your heirs can enjoy the returns of your creative work way long after your passing if you have the proper paperwork.
2) REGISTER YOUR TRADEMARKS
All businesses use designs, symbols, logos, and taglines as part of their branding and identity. The images and words they use for Trademark™ help a company become memorable to its customers.
Without a Trademark™, you risk your logo or tagline being copied by someone else and claim it as their own.
With a Trademark™, you can perpetually own your branding identities' rights as it has no expiry. However, experts advise that you must file for a Section 8 declaration that confirms you or your company are still using the IP.
The best way to furnish an excellent Trademark™ is with a lawyer, as there can be complexities in the process of registering.
3) REGISTER YOUR PATENTS
Your Patent gives you the ability to claim ownership of any unique product, the machine, equipment, chemical composition, operating system, and others that you invented.
Patents give you legal protection that allows only you to be the one to reproduce and distribute your invention. It also gives you the ability to choose whom you can license to use your invention.
4) REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS AND PRODUCT NAMES
The Coca-Cola Corp. wholly owns the trademark for the product name Coca-Cola, as well as the trademark for the shape of its bottle and its logo. With these precautions, nobody can sell any product using the same name, logo, and bottle.
Do the same for your business name, logo, the names of your products, and even your packaging when needed.
By registering your names, you will be able to avoid using those that are already in use by other companies.
5) REGISTER YOUR DOMAIN NAME
When you have decided on your brand name and identity, one of the best earliest things that you can do to secure your business is by registering your domain name at once. The earlier you get the domain name that fits your brand, the less likely it is that someone will sell it to you at a higher price.
When someone is using a domain name that exactly uses the words of your legally registered brand name, you can retrieve it by taking legal action if the owner gives you a hard time. A lawyer can help you sort things out.
6) USE CONFIDENTIALITY OR NON-DISCLOSURE CONTRACTS
Use confidentiality, non-disclosure, or licensing contracts to protect leaking crucial information about your business in public. For example, if you are developing an app, but you don’t want your employees to reveal the details before it’s ready to launch, you have to let them sign such a contract.
You will need a lawyer to officiate confidentiality agreements that bind employees and workers to follow your protocols in keeping crucial information private. They will face legal action if they leak any information.
You can either have them sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement, CDA (Confidential disclosure agreement), PIA (Proprietary Information Agreement), or SA (Secrecy Agreement)
7) SECURE LICENSING CONTRACTS
Licensing grants a third-party with access to your intellectual property for their use, branding, and distribution.
An example of licensing is how Marvel gives licenses to toymakers and stores for their popular merchandise. The one who defines the parameters of the use of the intellectual property is Marvel, and the license may include the quality standards for the toys and how it will be distributed.
There is much ground to cover when it comes to licensing, and it is crucial that you consult with lawyers to ensure that every aspect of protecting your IP is detailed in the licensing agreement.
8) PROTECT YOUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ONLINE
You are online, and so are your business plans, crucial information, and other intellectual property. Don’t risk your assets or make them susceptible to theft via hacking.
Use the following security measures to protect your private information.
- Set up password protection for all of your computer networks.
- Encrypt your data.
- Use a VPN or Virtual Private Network.
- Implement a Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 or WPA2.
- Invest in reliable software for storing and distributing files.
- Hire a team of IT experts to implement security measures.
9) AVOID JOINT OWNERSHIP
Jointly owned intellectual property rights may be defined as two or more parties with shared control and ownership of the same intellectual property rights or patents. It may imply that a mutual decision is necessary for all parties for virtually all of the disposal of intellectual property rights.
In other words, it is complex, and when disagreements between the property owners arise, the legal battles can be exhausting.
10) HIRE A LAWYER
When you hire a lawyer, you will be able to cover every aspect of security for your intellectual property. Intellectual property can be highly technical and complex to deal with, and if you don’t have the expertise, you might miss crucial areas that can lead to your loss.