Define What Your Intellectual Property Is

Protecting intellectual property has always been very important for businesses of all sizes and in all sectors because failing to do so can lead to very negative consequences. Make no mistake about how important this is, your intellectual property can be the key to your business’ success, but it can also lead to failure if you do not protect it properly. 

Businesses, in general, have to go out of their way to protect their intellectual property so that they can reap the full benefits and continue to be productive and profitable. Individuals such as artist must do the same so that they are rewarded for their ideas and other intellectual creations and continue to influence cultural development. But you have to define what your intellectual property is so that you can then implement a plan to protect it, look into an intellectual property lawyer to get the help you need. 

What is Intellectual property?

Intellectual property refers to property that people create with their minds; this can include ideas, inventions, works of art, writing, images, logos, and much more. All of these things are very important to a business or individual who has either created them or own them. The importance of protecting intellectual property was first fully addressed in France at the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property back in 1883.  Intellectual property can be divided into three categories: patents, copyrights, and trademarks. In order to go about protecting your business or personal intellectual property properly, you should be fully aware of which of these categories it falls into. Let’s have a closer look.

Protecting Patents

When it comes to intellectual property, inventions are a very important part of the topic because they are absolutely vital to the business that creates or owns them; this is because its very success as a business and future prospects depend heavily on those inventions. A business that creates a new product that is certain to have mass appeal must protect it with a patent. Imagine a company that made a new kind of computer that was sure to enhance people’s ability to work in a more efficient way in offices across the world but failed to protect it with a patent. That company would soon experience financial doom since it would not be able to keep others from producing its product; that is simply unacceptable and the reason that patents are so important. There are four important types of patents:

Utility Patent

This is the most common patent since it protects inventions that have a specific function.

Design Patent

This patent focuses on the unique shape or aesthetic qualities of an item.

Plant Patent

This patent protects plants and vegetables.

Software Patent

This is an extremely important patent for modern times since software is so important to everything that we do.

Once a company has a patent for a product, it can effectively block others from producing that product a specified period of years (usually 20 years.) Obtaining a patent is a simple process. Here are the steps that have to be followed:

Documentation

You should have full documentation of the entire process that you or your company went through in order to come up with the invention.

 Patent Attorney

You may need to hire a patent attorney if your company does not have a dedicated legal team.

Apply For a Provisional Patent

A provisional patent can give you much-needed time to work out any issues your invention might have before submitting an application for a full patent.

Apply for a Patent

 A patent application must be perfect and that is why you might need a patent attorney to help you get it right. Your attorney can also help you if there are questions or concerns from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Something that should go without saying is that companies that create inventions and need to patent them should have a clear understanding about ownership, which should be clearly defined in writing in order to avoid legal issues later on. You might assume that your employees know that what they create while you are paying them belongs to the company, but if you don’t have it in writing, you can be leaving your intellectual property open for attack.

Copyright Protection

A copyright is used to protect works of art such as books, music, photographs, videos, and others. This work of art must be original is its creator wants it to have copyright protection. Technically speaking, a work is automatically copyright protected as soon as it is written down by its creator; it was not always like this but this became the norm with U.S. copyright law in 1978. However, this should not be considered as sufficient protection if you intend to make a profit from your work or feel that it could be in danger from being reproduced without permission by others. 

The next step should be to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office so that it enjoys full protection and you are able to pursue legal action against individuals or companies who infringe on your rights with regard to your work. Once that is done, you should make it a point to use a copyright symbol with your work so that others know from the get-go that they are dealing with a work that has copyright protection.

Trademark Protection

For businesses, trademark protection is a must because they would not want any other business to be able to use their unique name or logos since this would be counterproductive for business. You want both the public in general and potential clients, in particular, to be able to fully identify your particular company by its unique name and logo. 

Businesses can also choose to have trademark protection for their packaging so that customers associate it with them and only them. Trademark law does not just protect businesses by prohibiting others from using a unique name, logo, or even packaging but also the public at large since it keeps them from being confused or duped about what company or quality of products or services they are dealing with. If you have just recently set up a new company and have not yet filed your company’s name or logo for trademark protection, it is extremely important that you do so as soon as possible so that you can secure and protect them properly. You would not want to wait a while before doing so just to find that someone beat you to it and you now have to change your company’s name or logo. Trademarks should be filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). You might want to consult an intellectual property attorney so that everything turns out well and there are no complications in the future.  

Check out one of our recent blog posts about I Have Been Demoted at Work – What Can a Lawyer Do To Help Me?

 

 

By: Fred Geonetta

Frederick J. Geonetta is a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of Law. His legal practice is entirely devoted to litigation. Mr. Geonetta has spent the past 25 years in private practice representing both plaintiffs and defendants who have been harmed or wronged by the actions of others or who have been falsely accused of causing harm to others. He represents clients across the U.S. and international clients who seek U.S. legal advice or representation.