But there’s one thing that many business owners forget to focus on. And that’s protecting their intellectual property. Yes, you read that right. You need to do something to protect your organization’s intangible assets such as name, content, logo, original creations, and other creative ideas from being stolen.
Now, what exactly is intellectual property?
The World Intellectual Property Organization describes it as innovative creations of the mind such as literary works, names, art pieces, images, and inventions used for commercial purposes. And it is the duty of business owners to protect their intellectual property from being misused or implemented without consent.
Look at it this way, suppose you are an interior designer. And you came up with an out-of-the-box floor plan for your customers. Now imagine your rivals stealing your idea and making profits out of it? Or suppose you are a restaurant owner who worked really hard to flourish your brand name. Now, what if someone steals your brand name and opens a similar restaurant nearby yours. Wouldn’t that affect your sales?
Many small businesses, especially the new ones, thrive on their intellectual labor. That’s exactly why protecting intellectual property is important now more than ever. You should know that it is the one thing that can help you give a competitive edge over your competitors. Not only this but protecting your intellectual property can help you defend your intangible business assets in front of the law.
So, without any further ado, let’s dive into some common types of intellectual property you need to focus on.
As outlined above, no business owner would want their rival to use their branding and marketing strategy. See, when you came up with your business idea, you might have spent countless hours researching the logo, tagline, and advertisement strategies. Let’s be honest, that’s not only manual labor but is also a financial investment. So, in order to protect that, you need to get a trademark for your business. For instance, no one else can use the brand name, tagline, or logo of Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola Company (KO) holds the rights to the trademark.
According to IP attorneys, a trademark is a phrase, symbol, or insignia that legally distinguishes your product or service from the others in the industry. Business owners apply for a trademark so that no one can copy or use it for their own business. Being an entrepreneur, you should know that you have a federal right to register your company’s trademark with the USPTO. The first step of the process is to search the database for any traces of similar service marks or trademarks. Once the authorities get satisfied that your trademark is one of a kind, only then you’ll be able to register it. You should also know that as long as you renew your registered trademark, it’ll belong to your business forever.
Suppose your company sells and manufactures organic cosmetics. And you’ve come with a solution or technical innovation that lets you reduce the manufacturing cost of the products. This way, you’ll be selling your products at lower rates and making profits. By seeing this, many companies would want to use the technology or solution you use to maximize their profits and take their sales rocket a step further. You should know that one way or the other, they are going to figure out about your invention. In that case, you would have to get a patent for your innovative solution or technical innovation so that your rivals can’t use them without your consent.
In simple words, a patent is used by business owners to gain exclusive rights to their invention. This includes the design and process of any invention. IT companies often file patents for their software designs. For instance, Steve Jobs and three other colleagues at Apple Inc filed a patent application for the personal computer in 1980. This means that no company can legally copy Apple’s designs to sell their own computers.
All you need to do is associate with IP attorneys, and they will guide you through the entire patent filing process. They’ll tell you all about how much does a patent cost and what all you need to do to file it. Ideally, a registered patent secures your rights over your invention for 20 years from the date you filed for it. Or, if someone really wants to use your invention to make profits, you have the right to charge a licensing fee in return for the permission.
You might have seen many Mac Donald’s outlets in every city. You should know that one business owner does not own them. Nor the outlet owners are committing any infringement using Mac Donald’s recipes, taglines, or logo. Mac Donald is a food chain that has distributed franchise licenses to many business owners worldwide. It allows them to run their businesses under one single name.
Giving away a franchisee license typically means that you share your intellectual property with other business owners who are capable enough to uphold your business standards. You should also know that giving away franchisee licenses comes with certain restrictions.
For instance, suppose you own a clothing brand, and it has become a huge buzz in the city. Now, if someone wants to own rights to your franchisee, you can ask the holders to keep the same ambiance or wear the same dress. This way, they will be working independently but promoting your brand name in the process. You can also charge licensing or startup fees from someone who wants to do business under your brand name.
To sum it all up,
Protecting intellectual property can be a bit challenging. Use the intellectual property types mentioned above and protect your new business from being exploited by your rivals.
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