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How small businesses can protect their intellectual property

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2024 | Business & Commercial Law

Businesses often start with small ideas. It can come up through random conversations with your friends and family. A lightbulb could also light up in your head when you experience a problem and discover a solution for it. But, sometimes, other people have the same idea. For small businesses and startup companies, being the first to secure rights for your products, services or brand marks gives a competitive advantage for your business. It is best to know and understand your Intellectual Property (IP) assets and rights in the early parts of your business life.

IPs are creations protected by law, such as product ideas, business signs and names, artwork or music. While these are all intangible by nature, the IP law gives a sense of tangibility to these things by providing their creators the right to control their use. Here are three steps to protecting your business’s intellectual property:

  • Recognize your IP assets: Note all the unique ideas that build your business. This includes your product ideas, business name, logo and other distinctive signs that set you apart from your competitors.
  • Secure your IP assets: Different IP rights protect different IP assets. For instance, a patent right protects new technical solutions or inventions. A trademark, trade secret, design protection and copyright all protect different IP assets. Make sure that you secure your products and apply for the correct IP protection.
  • Register your IP assets: Coordinate with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to register your IP assets.

Registering your IP assets not only protects your products but also allows your business to grow. Having IP rights could attract potential business partners, collaborators and investors. Licensing your IP assets could also be an additional revenue stream for your business.

Addressing IP disputes

Competition is always harsh in the field of business. Your competitors could be around the corner developing similar businesses, products or technical solutions like yours. Businesses often resolve IP disputes through arbitration, mediation or court litigations. Being in an IP dispute could give you a competitive advantage or ultimately bring your business down. Understanding your IP rights can help you safeguard your business’s IP assets and prevent future disputes.