Skip to main content

Protecting Your Business’s Intellectual Property

May 16, 2024

Posted in Uncategorized

As an entrepreneur, your business’s intellectual property (IP) is one of its most valuable assets. IP encompasses creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, symbols, names, and images used in commerce. Effectively protecting this property is crucial to maintaining your competitive edge and ensuring your business’s long-term success.

In the digital age, it’s even more crucial to work with a business lawyer who closely monitors changes in state and federal laws that could affect your IP rights. Our friends from Volpe Law LLC are giving entrepreneurs a birds-eye view of the basics of protecting your business’s intellectual property, understanding trademarks, patents, and copyrights, and the steps to take if someone infringes on your IP.

Understanding Trademarks, Patents, And Copyrights

Trademarks protect symbols, names, and slogans used to identify goods and services. For instance, the Nike swoosh and the phrase “Just Do It” are trademarks. Registering a trademark provides exclusive rights to use the mark and helps prevent others from using similar marks that could confuse consumers. Trademark protection lasts as long as the mark is in use and properly maintained, with renewals required every ten years.

Patents grant exclusive rights to inventors for their inventions, preventing others from making, using, or selling the invention without permission. There are three types of patents: utility patents (for new and useful inventions), design patents (for new, original, and ornamental designs), and plant patents (for new plant varieties).

Copyrights protect original works of authorship, such as books, music, and software. Copyright protection is automatic upon the creation of the work and does not require registration, although registering with the U.S. Copyright Office provides additional legal benefits. Copyrights last for the life of the author plus 70 years, or for works made for hire, 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.

Steps To Protect Your IP

Our lawyers have a few key tips for protecting your IP, although these are no replacement for bespoke advice from your own business attorney:

  • Identify Your IP Assets: Conduct an IP audit to identify all the intellectual property your business owns. This includes trademarks, patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and any other proprietary information.
  • Register Your IP: While some IP protection is automatic (like copyrights), others require registration. File for trademark registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and apply for patents if you have inventions that meet the criteria.
  • Implement IP Policies: Develop internal policies to safeguard your IP. This includes confidentiality agreements, employee contracts, and procedures for handling proprietary information.
  • Monitor Your IP: Regularly monitor the market for potential infringements. This includes keeping an eye on competitors and conducting periodic searches to ensure no one is using your protected IP without permission.

Steps To Take If Someone Infringes On Your IP

What do you do if another party infringes on your IP? You can help your attorney by:

  • Documenting the infringement
  • Consulting with an IP attorney
  • Sending a cease-and-desist letter

If the infringer does not comply with the cease-and-desist letter, you may need to file a lawsuit to protect your rights. Your attorney can guide you through the process and represent your interests in court.