New ideas and creations aren’t always tangible, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be protected. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, intellectual property (IP) includes any creation of the mind, including literary and artistic works, inventions, names or images used in business.
Like any other property right, IP rights provide the owner of creations with the ability to benefit from the work, investment or creation they own while protecting it from copycats. However, knowing when you have an idea worth protecting and finding the right type of legal protection can be tricky. To learn how to protect your business effectively, here’s everything you need to know about safeguarding IP.
When is it time to protect an idea?
As soon as you begin taking steps to bring your idea to fruition, whether by obtaining the appropriate licenses or securing the production of a product, you’ll want to identify whether your work is protectable. Depending on the type of creation, you may need to apply for a trademark, patent, copyright or trade secret.
Different types of IP require different protection from copycats or unfair competition. Consulting with an attorney who can help you determine the right kind of security and perform a conflict search to ensure no one else has rights to your creation is essential early in the process.
Why is it important to protect intellectual property?
Many individuals or businesses delay securing their IP because they don’t expect others to copy things such as their brands or products. Unfortunately, it happens all too often. Not only could this result in someone else profiting from your creation, but sometimes you cannot force them to stop unless you previously registered your IP. It’s critical not to wait until it’s too late and register your IP on a state or federal level proactively.
When shouldn’t you worry about registering intellectual property?
There are few instances in which a business shouldn’t worry about registering their IP. While a product or invention that isn’t necessarily new likely won’t qualify for a patent like if you design footwear, trademarking your brand or product may still be critical for standing out amongst the competition. Unless you are a business with no plans of expansion and you don’t mind someone else using your ideas for their benefit, you should always register your IP to establish ownership.