Information is becoming easier to distribute and access, making it harder to protect and safeguard your product ideas and intellectual property safe from copying and theft. No matter if you’re a start-up business or a large company, it is vital that you take steps to protect your intellectual property.
What is Intellectual Property?
In short, intellectual property is any work or product that has come from an original thought. Manuscripts, artwork, blog posts and website content, business names and other original, confidential information are all examples of intellectual property. If you come up with a good name or product, then you want to make sure that no one can use it without your permission.
Examples of intellectual property include:
- Industrial Machinery
- Company Logo
- Computer Programming
- Business Process
Steps to Safeguard Your Intellectual Property
It’s easy to protect your intellectual property by following some basic steps. Following these steps can lower your chances of having to deal with intellectual property theft, and should give you protection if someone does, unfortunately, steal your intellectual property.
Keep Ideas and Trade Secrets a Secret
Until you have safely secured your intellectual property, then avoid talking about it with other people unless they have signed a non-disclosure agreement. You have to be careful with who you trust with this information, and try not to promote the idea in any way on a public forum or site.
Keep Note of Your Concepts and Original Content in Detail
Have any detailed drawings, plans and descriptions to prove that you came up with your intellectual property, and records that you have been working on it. This proof will help your case if someone was to challenge you as the rightful owner. Make sure to add dates where possible, because the first date of use is critical when it comes to intellectual property matters.
Apply For a Trademark
As soon as you have your business name and logo, it’s best to register those as trademarks straight away.
Register Your Creative Works, Trade Secrets and Intellectual Property
Along with any trademarks, work with corporate solicitors to register the remainder of your assets. Write down the details of your intellectual property so that you can distinguish it from any similar existing ideas. It’s a good idea to do an intellectual property audit with your solicitor so that you have a portfolio documented.
Make An Investment
Keep in mind that before you have registered and secured your intellectual property, anyone can take your idea and recreate it for themselves. However, your odds of beating any content and idea theft is higher when your intellectual property is protected.
Don’t Steal from Others
A final, but important, point is that as much as you want to protect your own intellectual property, you also need to be completely aware and fully against stealing others. From using other people’s images on your website to stealing a cool idea you head on the radio, it may all seem innocent at the time but it can infringe on another person’s intellectual property to do so.
So, when using images online always make sure that you have the correct licence to do so (whether paid or not) and you credit the appropriate source when doing so. Not only is it damaging to the other party, but if it is something that you or your company becomes known for it could easily damage your long-term reputation. Establishing a process of gaining the appropriate permissions can, on the other hand, create a reputable reputation for your business as honest and good to deal with creatively.
You’re more likely to have much more intellectual property than you are aware of. Whilst securing your intellectual property requires finding a good solicitor and a bit of work to document and register it, making that time investment now will pay off in the long run when building and profiting from your intellectual property.