Protecting your Company’s Intellectual Property

HarleyDavidson.jpgWhen people start businesses, they typically start with a unique product, strategy, or service. They also typically want to brand themselves from the beginning, so they might have a logo, a company name, and maybe even a tagline or jingle so that customers can recognize them easily.

Each of these creations can set a company up for success. However, they can also lead to frustrating legal claims if they step on another company’s intellectual property rights.

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property is a term that refers to works of creation. It can refer to:

  • Inventions
  • Artistic works
  • Literary workers
  • Designs

It also includes images, symbols, and names used in commerce.

If you have something that you or someone in your business has created, then it could warrant legal protection to prohibit others from using, copying, or misrepresenting your work without your permission.

Different types of protection

There are several ways to protect intellectual property, and the proper method depends on the type of property in need of protection.

  • Copyrights protect artistic and literary works. This includes songs, books, films, computer programs, advertisements and technical drawings.
  • Patents protect inventions. With a patent, an inventor retains control over who–if anyone–can use the invention.
  • Trademarks distinguish a service or goods as belonging to one company and not another. Enterprises might register trademarks for symbols, product packaging, fragrances, colors, words and almost anything else.

Enforcing ownership

Securing the appropriate method to protect your intellectual property is just one step toward ensuring others do not use it without permission. You must also enforce your ownership by taking action against counterfeiters and infringers. This can include working with an attorney to pursue legal action and seeking financial penalties for violations.

Enforcing intellectual property rights can preserve the integrity of your business; it also minimizes the risk that an outside party will damage your image or reputation by wrongfully identifying substandard goods or services as yours. As such, it is crucial to take intellectual property protection and enforcement measures seriously.