Valuable intellectual properties require protection from unauthorized infringement and a range of worldwide competitors. As a result of online technology, the internet has made it easy for anyone to download a company’s logos, images and other creative assets. 

The International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce recommends safeguarding IP works by filing the first application for protection. Many countries, however, do not recognize an IP-registered trademark or copyright for protection under U.S. law. 

Rights awarded to first application for protection

Asset protection may go only to a company or individual who filed the first application in a country where sales of goods or services occur. If a business intends to use its IP to generate income in a variety of countries, it may need to file an application for protection in each one. 

Countries participating in a free-trade agreement may not require an application if the rules state that the agreement automatically protects international IP rights. Filing first, however, may afford other rights, such as taking action against imposters for infringement. Generally, a court may award damages for revenue lost from knock-offs or duplicates. 

Differences between tangible and intangible assets

Tangible IP assets include machinery, hardware and devices, such as cell phones. An inventor may apply to protect its design and usefulness processes. Intangible assets, such as logos or slogans, may complement a tangible asset. A mobile device, for example, may work more efficiently when users see its associated logo placed on various websites or in retail stores. 

Registration of IP protection, however, may not provide strong legal rights against aggressive infringement. As noted by Insurance Journal, a contract outlining intangible assets and damages for infringement exposure may help safeguard a company’s IP. Employees, contractors or resellers may need to adhere to a contract’s terms to avoid litigation.