Many small business owners have innovative ideas that cater to the needs of their clients. It’s essential that these owners know the importance of intellectual property and how they can protect it from those who want to copy their inventions. If you’re a small business and want to protect your ideas, read more below to learn more about intellectual property and the process of protecting it.
What Is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property is any creation by an individual, like inventions, literary or artistic works, designs, symbols, or images used in commerce. Intellectual property is protected by law and enables the person to earn recognition or benefit from their creations.
There are three main types of intellectual property:
- Patents – This refers to the exclusive right granted for an invention. It provides the owner the power to decide who and how others can use their design. The patent owner makes the technical information about their invention public by publishing a patent document in exchange for these rights.
- Copyright – This describes the rights that creators have over any literary or artistic work. This includes books, paintings, sculptures, films, and music. This may also include technical drawings, computer programs, and databases.
- Trademark – This is a sign that helps distinguish the goods and services of one enterprise from those of another. It acts as a mark on their products.
Many small and large businesses create new ideas every day, especially in large cities like Los Angeles or Miami. If you want to learn more about this, you can consult with the best business lawyer Miami has to offer.
Why Should You Protect Your Intellectual Property?
If you have a great idea or invention and it sells well to the public, there will always be people who’ll want to copy your ideas so they can either copy your success or make it their own. By protecting your intellectual property, you prevent your competitors from copying your ideas for their profit.
Protecting your ideas is also essential to protect your business growth. With your unique products and services, your competitors can’t take away significant market share. This will help your business achieve steady business growth even in the years to come.
How Can You Protect Your Intellectual Property?
If you have an idea that you think is unique and want to protect it to ensure your business growth, follow these steps:
- Check If The Idea Is Truly Unique
The first thing you should do is check if your innovation is unique so you can claim it solely yours. To be sure, you should conduct trademark and patent searches. If somebody else published the idea first, you can’t claim it as something new and the idea is yours.
While you’re checking if your idea is unique, you should secure your idea. You should avoid talking about this to other people who you think are potential competitors. When you discuss this with your business partners or employees, you should let them sign a non-disclosure agreement. Essentially, it’s crucial that you only share information with people you trust.
- Document Everything
Once you’ve verified that your idea is unique, you should document every aspect of your innovation. It’s essential to have detailed drawings, descriptions, and plans to prove that it’s your original idea. It also demonstrates that you’re the one working on the idea or the invention.
Proper documentation is essential in case someone challenges you as a rightful owner of your invention. You should ensure that you have dates placed on the document wherever possible.
- Consult With A Lawyer
If you want to apply for a trademark, patent, or copyright, you should consult with an intellectual property lawyer or a business lawyer. These lawyers can provide legal advice and prepare the documents needed to be associated in protecting your idea.
The duties and responsibilities of an intellectual property lawyer include:
- Provides advice and opinion concerning intellectual property law
- Confers with their clients and witnesses in preparation for any court proceedings
- Writes up pleadings, affidavits, and other court documents
- Prepares for the cases by conducting investigation and research
You must coordinate your case with a lawyer because they’re more knowledgeable about the law. They can also provide legal advice in case problems arises during your applications.
- Register Your Business
You can further protect your ideas by registering your product, business, or anything associated with it. Registering your products helps secure the names of the product or service even when you’re still in the planning stages of the business. This is a valuable step in case you run into any legal problems in the future.
- Create Confidentiality Contracts For Your Employees and Business Partners
While you’re in the process of protecting your intellectual property, you should take specific steps to protect the information from leaking to the public, especially if you’re working with other people while building your business, whether your business partners or employees. As mentioned, you should let them sign confidentiality agreements.
These documents must be prepared by your lawyers and explained well to all parties involved. Also, these documents bound employees and other people involved to comply with your demands and keep everything they know about your business private. If there are leaks and it proved to be from one of the people who signed the contract, they’ll be legally liable.
- Implement Security Measures
When it comes to securing your information, preventing information leaks from your employees or business partners is only one part of the equation. It would be best if you also implemented security measures, like investing in security infrastructure within your network framework. You can do the following:
- Set up a strong password for all your computer networks
- Provide data security awareness training for your employees
- Install firewall or anti-virus software in your network
- Learn how to encrypt your data
- Make your internet connection protected
- Ensure that your employees use the virtual private network (VPN) software when accessing business data outside the office
You can also invest in other reliable software tools for sorting and distributing your files. It would be best if you also had security policies to strengthen your security further.
There are many business ideas that improve the lives of other people. These business ideas can help ensure the success of your business. When you have these unique ideas, you should protect them so your competitors won’t steal them. Your ideas are your intellectual property, and you should take these steps to protect them.
First, you need to check if the idea is unique and there are no published copies. Next, to ensure the legality of your process, you should consult with a lawyer. Lastly, you should strengthen your data security by letting everyone sign confidentiality contracts and investing in network security infrastructure.