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Tips to protect intellectual property for a new business

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2024 | Business & Commercial Law

Intellectual property is the foundation of many companies. Yet, most new business owners don’t consider protecting their intellectual property. However, it’s a critical step to better ensuring a company’s success.

Protecting intellectual property (IP) is crucial for new businesses that wish to safeguard their innovative ideas, brand identity and competitive edge. Effective IP protection secures a business’s assets and enhances its valuation and attractiveness to investors. Understanding and implementing a comprehensive IP protection strategy can be decisive in a business’s success and longevity.

Securing trademarks for brand protection

One of the first steps in IP protection is securing trademarks for your business name, logos and slogans or branding elements that distinguish your services or products. Trademarks protect against unauthorized use of your brand identifiers, preventing confusion among consumers and protecting the integrity of your brand.

To ensure comprehensive protection, consider registering trademarks in key markets where your products or services will be offered. This process involves searching existing trademarks to avoid conflicts, applying with the appropriate government agency and maintaining the registration by using and defending the trademark appropriately.

Leveraging patents to protect innovations

Patents are critical to IP protection for businesses that invent new products, processes or technologies. A patent grants the holder exclusive rights to use, make, sell, and distribute the patented invention for a certain period, typically 20 years from the filing date. To obtain a patent, the invention must be novel, non-obvious and useful. The patent application process is complex and requires detailed descriptions and claims about the invention.

Copyrights and protecting creative works

Copyrights protect original works of authorship, including software, art, written documents and music. For businesses creating unique content or software, securing copyrights is essential to prevent unauthorized copying and distribution. Copyright protection arises automatically upon creating the work and its fixation in a tangible medium, but registering the copyright with the appropriate government agency can provide additional legal benefits. Registration establishes a public record of the copyright and is necessary before filing an infringement lawsuit in the U.S.

Trade secrets and confidentiality agreements

Some business assets, such as formulas, designs, processes or customer lists, are protected as trade secrets. Maintaining these elements as trade secrets requires implementing measures, such as confidentiality agreements, to keep them confidential.

Protecting trade secrets is an ongoing process that requires vigilance and a clear understanding of what constitutes your business’s valuable, confidential information. Working with a legal representative may make this process easier for business owners who want to establish and/or enhance their IP protection.