Your intellectual property is a key part of your organization. It includes your products, trade secrets, branding, designs, and other forms of intangible property, all of which is well worth protecting. The laws governing it are numerous and complex, and there are a few things you should know about intellectual property that will help you in creating a plan to keep it well guarded. Five of these include:
1. It’s your most important asset: Intellectual property is the central asset of your organization. Without it, you don’t really have anything to offer the public, so the value of your company is directly tied to the value of your IP. If it’s compromised in any way, your company will very likely suffer as your branding is weakened, your place in the market is uprooted, and your trade secrets are made public.
2. The type of IP will determine how it’s protected: There are various ways to protect intellectual property, and this ultimately depends on the form that property takes. Patents, for example, protect your rights to your own inventions, whereas trademarks are intended to protect the integrity of your branding as a whole. Copyright protects the expression of an idea, and covers things such as art, music, and so forth. These are all handled under specific laws that must be followed.
3. The more documentation, the better: Some forms of intellectual property protection, such as copyrights, do not necessarily require registration to be legitimate under the law. However, documentation is still important. If someone violates a copyright, for example, having that on record will make it much easier to enforce, and it can even prevent the need for a lawsuit.
4. Ownership needs to be clearly outlined: When drafting agreements, registering patents, or issuing licenses, it is vital to indicate exactly who owns what. Does the patent belong to the company, or does it belong to a specific individual? Should a trademark be registered under your entire company, or under a specific branch of the organization? These need to be clearly defined and precisely recorded in the right avenues.
5. Lawsuits aren’t the only answer: If someone violates a copyright or trademark, a lawsuit may not be necessary or even desirable. There are many ways to peacefully resolve intellectual property breaches, and you can even benefit from certain arrangements. For example, if someone inadvertently uses a key part of your trademark in their own branding, you could issue them a license to use it if they meet certain requirements.
The process of protecting your intellectual property can be complex, and there are specific rules you must follow. Legal assistance is key to navigating these processes successfully, whether that involves applying for a patent or issuing a license to a third party to use your inventions. A misstep in this process can compromise your property, making it easier for others to exploit it and ultimately damage your organization.
If you need help safeguarding your intellectual property, an attorney can benefit you greatly. Hart & David can provide the legal assistance you need in this process, so contact us today.