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How to Protect your Intellectual Property: A Guide for Entrepreneurs

It can be overwhelming for an entrepreneur to keep the business running smoothly. Daily it leaves you in doubts, anxiety, and several other legitimate issues. One of the significant impact areas that the businesses need to stay aware of is Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). More often, when matters related to IPR pop up, many start running in another direction. What emerges in mind are the images of expensive lawyers, which further leads to an excuse for ignoring the topic.

A challenge that every entrepreneur faces is the rise of competition through the Internet. When you are part of the global market, understanding different aspects of intellectual property and being aware of ways to protect it is critical than ever. If you are looking for some consultation, you can reach out to intellectual property attorney Miami.

Intellectual Property: What does it entail?

It refers to any invention or original piece of work that you have developed. It may include your business name, logo, marketing & promotional material, products, and designs. Protecting these helps prevent others from misusing it, and in case if someone does copy it, you have recourse.

Benefits for your business

Intellectual Property Rights help your business differentiate from the competitors by yielding for you the following advantages:

  • Create an additional and promising stream by selling or licensing
  • Offer distinctive and pioneering products and services to your customers
  • It will form an integral part of your marketing, promotional, or branding initiatives
  • Intellectual properties are valuable assets that can even be used as security against loans.

You can leverage your Intellectual Property to the maximum only when you legally protect it in the following ways:

  • Protect it against any infringement by others
  • Gain a legal foothold in the court of law by claiming your sole right on it.
  • No one use, make, sell, or import without your agreement else you can legally stop them.
  • Earn royalties by licensing or make money by selling it.
  • Use it strategically for alliances and business expansions.

Ways to protect your Intellectual Property

There are four main ways to protect it. Here's what you need to know about it.

Copyright

It covers original creative works like art, music, and writing. The content that you create for your business brochure also falls into this category. Although the copyright registration is voluntary, it can be done as a safeguard measure. However, your creative work is protected as soon as you create it, provided you have the evidence to support it. Also, a formal registration serves as a public record.

The flip side is that it does not last forever. It will enter the public domain 70 years after the death of the creator. It only covers the presentation of the idea and not the idea itself.

Patent

Patents prohibit others from making, using, or selling your inventions and discoveries. It is required to get your patents at the right time as without it, others can create, use, or sell your invention, and you will have no right to sue them.

The process for filing a patent is an extensive one, and generally, it makes sense to avail services of a professional patent lawyer. It will drive up the cost, but it is worth it.

It is a territorial right and hence only useful within the territory where it is applied. Separate patents need to be filed for each country where protection is required.

Trademark

Through it, you protect names, symbols, or designs that differentiate the owner of the piece of work. Your company name, logo, and marketing tag line fall into this category. It may not be necessary to register your trademark but doing so will enhance your rights.

It legally authorizes you and prohibits others from using your name, symbol, or mark. Also, the mark will be searchable in the trademark office's database.

It legally defines your rights for using the name, symbol, or mark, and the mark will be searchable in the trademark office's database.

The validity of patents is ten years, and one needs to renew it every ten years. One needs to apply it separately in every country wherever there is a business presence.

Trade secrets

It is an intellectual property that includes recipes, formulas, practices, instruments, or compilations of information that have economic value, and the owner wishes to keep it a secret from its business competitors for business purposes. Often it is also referred to as confidential information. The employee contracts have the confidentiality clause disallowing the employee to share any sensitive information with the third party. 

Although there is no need to register the trade secrets, the owner must have enough evidence to prove when required in a court of law that the information comes under a trade secret category. 

Part of budgeting and business plan

  • Your business can be valued based on IPR

Entrepreneurs estimate their business significantly from their IP rights as it may not have an extensive product stock or workforce. It has been seen that over 80% of the estimation of entrepreneurial business is dependent on their IP portfolio.

  • Strict vigil on finances

Your entrepreneurial venture needs to tighten the purse strings; only then will you start making profits. And the creation of IP assets increases your business's value many folds and may also contribute to the bottom-line.

  • Control and manage what you have

What you created and owned is yours, and no one should infringe on your rights. You have the right to forbid any other business to duplicate your IP assets.

As an entrepreneur, you operate in a highly dynamic environment where competition and technology's dynamism are challenging to manage. You always need to remain on edge to protect your Intellectual Property from being used/misused by any other business. Safeguarding your IPR is the best way to create a significant and sustainable differentiating factor in an extremely competitive market. Your success, your valuation rests on it. Prefer availing services of an IPR attorney for further guidance. 


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