Protect Your Intellectual Property

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on August 5, 2010

One of your greatest assets as a business owner is your intellectual property. IP includes inventions and literary and artistic works, as well as symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce. Many entrepreneurs think they can put off protecting their intellectual property to save time and money. This is a huge mistake. Saving a dime today can cost you and your business millions tomorrow, so take all precautions necessary to protect yourself and your business now. In my experience, there are four key areas of intellectual property that every business owner should be aware of and strive to protect. These include:

1. Patents. Protecting a patent provides significant advantages, because it prevents others from making, selling, or using your product without reimbursement of royalties or other means of payment.

2. Trademarks. A trademark is words and symbols used in association with your company’s products and services to differentiate those items from other available products and services in the market. By protecting your trademark you’re ensuring that other businesses cannot benefit financially from the hard work you put into building a good, respectable brand.

3. Copyrights. Copyrights provide constitutional protection to authors of original works to secure for a limited time the exclusive rights to their writings and works.

4. Trade secrets. A trade secret includes formulas, compounds, processes, research and development information, customer lists, business plans, computer programs, and other items or materials that are not generally known within the trade or industry. Generally, a trade secret must not be common public knowledge, must have demonstrable value, and must be protected and maintained as confidential by the owner. If protected properly, intellectual property rights will help you build a portfolio that adds value to your business.

T. Craig Bott
President and CEO
Grow Utah Ventures
Salt Lake City

Reader Comments

Tom Hochstatter

August 6, 2010 3:16 PM

Craig, I 100% agree with an ounce of prevention...pound of cure related to IP protection.

As a lifetime entrepreneur it's a difficult balance between say a $15-$30k per patent application expense(including a 3-5 year wait) and a similar amount spent for sales or marketing activities to produce more immediate economic results. I guess the best answer is plan your capital raise or expected expenses to include IP protection earlier in the process...

Start-ups can do well to protect the other elements you mention (copyright, trademarks immediately and keep stellar records on their innovations such that even with a later IP application date - it won't submarine their future competitiveness. Good tips.

thanks,
Tom Hochstatter
Managing Director, IPWire.com
www.ipwire.com

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