One of the biggest assets of a modern business is the Intellectual Property (IP) it produces. IP covers copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets which you own.
IP infringement generates a great deal of commercial litigation. While it may be comforting you can always take someone who violates your IP rights to court, the truth is it’s wiser to try to protect your IP before you have to.
Copyright covers written works, videos your company might produce, computer software, and other creative works.
Technically, a copyright exists from the moment you put pen to paper. Your employee could write an instruction manual on a napkin and it would still be covered. Yet the copyright is useless to you if you can’t prove that you hold it.
Thus, it is generally wise to register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress.
Trademarks are your logos, slogans, brand names, and other symbols which help the public recognize your company.
Trademarks get established in one of two ways. One is by using the ™ symbol. When you do this you’re claiming you’ve used your trademarks often enough that they’ve become yours by default.
The safer way is to register your trademarks with the United States Patent Office.
A patent offers you the exclusive right to sell or license an invention or concept. They come in three flavors: design, utility, and plant. The third type covers actual living plants which have been discovered or created.
Obviously you will want to go through the application process at the US Patent office to protect any patents. This is a more extensive process than many people realize, and might hit some unexpected complications, such as running into patent squatters who might have broadly protected an idea similar to yours.
If you need to protect a patent, it’s best to involve a business attorney.
It’s often wise to implement policies and procedures that can help you protect these secrets. These can be worked into contracts, baked into security processes, and made part of your corporate training.
Trade secrets can’t easily be registered or directly legally protected like other forms of IP, but you may still be able to protect them in the courts in the event that you find yourself facing illegal activity or a contract breach.
There are so many issues to consider when running a business, and many business owners fail to catch everything before they run into real trouble. The best way to protect your company is to set up a consultation with our firm. We can help you identify risk factors, liabilities, and ways to protect yourself legally before you find yourself in “litigation panic mode.”
Reach out to our offices to get help today.
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Meet Mr. Richman
SCOTT B. RICHMAN, ESQ.
Mr. Richman is the Managing Member and Founder of Richman Law Firm PLLC. In his role as Managing Member, Mr. Richman oversees the day-to-day operations of the firm and handles the litigation of the most complex legal matters across a vast array of practice areas and disciplines.