Intellectual property is that class of intangible asset that is created by the human intellect. It is a very valuable business asset for a company. Though intangible in nature and difficult to quantify, intellectual property is critical to the success of a company. Creators of intellectual properties are their owners and have similar legal rights as the owners of any other physical asset, such as land or machinery. However, being intangible in nature, it is vulnerable to misuse and infringement. Therefore, owners of such intellectual property should consult intellectual property lawyers and take prompt steps to secure them.
New businesses based on innovative ideas are coming up every day. These ideas, inventions and innovations give the company an edge over its competition, and its success is totally dependent on them. It is, therefore, paramount that the intellectual property rights of the rightful owners be protected from infringement otherwise they might lose their competitive advantage. This article discusses the ways in which intellectual property can be protected.
Register Copyrights, Trademarks, and Patents
The most common intellectual property protection is acquired through copyright, trademark, and patent that gives exclusive rights to the creators.
- Copyright: it protects your tangible and intangible creations of art. Though you get automatic copyright over your artistic creations, it is important that you register them to legally validate your ownership.
- Trademark: names, symbols, designs and logos that businesses use to identify their brands are called trademarks. Registering them gives you protection from misuse by unscrupulous elements for commercial gains.
- Patent: inventions of unique products or some chemical formulations can be protected from unauthorized use by filing a patent with the Controller General of Patents Design and Trademark.
Register your Business and Domain Names
You can also protect your intellectual property by registering your business, products and domain names, which are essentially a part of your brand. You can do this even before starting the business to pre-empt the possibility of others coming up with a similar idea or name. For instance, if a domain name you propose to register is already owned by someone else, you will either have to forego that name or pay a substantial fee to the owner to legally acquire the ownership and exclusive rights to that domain name. Even in sole proprietorship, where the business is operated under your name, registration helps in securing your IP, and your identity is legally deemed separate from your business.
Confidentiality, NDA and Licensing
Technology is an integral part of businesses, with internet playing a crucial role in fuelling growth. However, along with the advantages that technology offers, there are some downsides as well. With critical data and your intellectual property linked online, it becomes vulnerable to infringements. You, therefore, need to have a strong security system within your company’s IT framework, which may include password protection, data encryption, use of Virtual Private Network, and Wi-Fi Protected Access.
Refrain from Joint Ownership
Intellectual property may be created by an individual or a team. When there is more than one person involved, intellectual property could be jointly owned by several persons. It gives every owner the right to use it in whatever way they want to. Thus, joint ownership runs the risk of being exploited. Though in several jurisdictions enforcement of a jointly owned IP requires the participation and endorsement of all the owners, possibility of complications arising in the future cannot be ruled out. It is, therefore, advisable that joint ownership be avoided as much as possible. Even if the Intellectual Property is the result of collaborative effort, some formula should be devised in consultation with intellectual property lawyers to vest the rights with a single entity.
To conclude, it is critical for businesses to protect intellectual property to safeguard their commercial interests, and measures discussed above can help you do just that.