Small business owners do not hesitate to register or protect the physical things they own and produce. However, few small business owners consider safeguarding their business intellectual property from those who would infringe upon their products and ideas. Protecting all business assets, physical and intangible, is essential for a small business owner. In fact, failing to adequately protect a business’s name or its images, symbols, and products can cause a company to flounder before it even gets off the ground.
What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual Property (IP) refers to anything that is created from an individual’s mind such as a business name, logo, designs, or products. Most people are familiar with patents, which are filed to protect a business’s right to produce their own product without competition for a number of years. For example, only Ford Motor Company may manufacture a Ford Focus vehicle. Other companies may build an automobile, but it must be different than a patented car.
Types of Protection Available
Patents are the most common form of protection that people are aware of. To qualify for a patent, a business must show their idea is new, non-obvious to a reasonable person in the same industry, and the product must be considered useful. Patent protection allows the holder to take legal action against anyone who copies their product, the design, or the process. Trademarks will protect a business’s name and logo and similar intangible ideas that distinguishes the company from its competition. A great example of a trademark is the Nike swoosh. Anyone who sees that symbols immediately associates it with the Nike, Inc. Copyrights exist to protect authors of written and artistic works. This protection gives the holder, usually the author, the exclusive rights to distribute, modify, or display their work.
How to Protect Intellectual Property
Businesses interested in obtaining IP protection can consult an attorney for assistance in filing for IP protection. Look for an attorney who specializes in patent and trademark law. Hiring a DMCA takedown service can help identifying copycats online quickly. They specialize in searching for your own content on other web pages and get protected content removed quickly. Small business owners may consider their business too small to protect intangible assets, but protecting those assets brings peace of mind that a copycat will not steal or defame your business.