Taking a Proactive Stance to Small Business Intellectual Property Management
Although innovation in the small business sector continues to expand, they are doing so in closer proximity to other incremental innovations and a climate of more challenging patent legislation. This creates an atmosphere where proactive intellectual property management is a crucial challenge.
The USPTO records from the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) show that they received between 440 and 600 thousand new trademark applications in 2017. That’s an increase of 13.4 percent over 2016, which was the previous record holding year that doubled the increase of the year before that. This not only points to a challenge of processing and approval but one of a narrowing IP landscape where copyrights, trademarks, patents and trade secrets are part of a product or service evolution across sectors.
In short, most small businesses are making improvements on existing products and systems where numerous patent holders operate in the same space. This can be seen in the world of communications, IT, life sciences and many others where incremental, cumulative and complex changes are the norm rather than proprietary discrete technologies.
When it comes to intellectual property management, technology innovation is as much about the ways that IP can be disseminated as it is about how it is created and used. This runs across the four primary areas of IP: copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets. Innovators often have a less than firm grasp on what they have innovated and its ramifications in the marketplace. That becomes more challenging when it comes to how to best protect and manage it.
For example, digital rights management in the age of social media can provide numerous ways that trademarks and the brands that they represent can be exploited in ways that dilute them without being clear cut legal infringement. This death by a thousand cuts requires a great sense of diligence and a thorough approach to setting up the systems of IP management.
That can translate to setting up clear legal and practical guidelines for how you closely monitor how these trademarks are used across social media by your employees as well as the general public and your competitors. It’s never been easier to grab a trademarked logo from the web and share it in ways that make it difficult for the general public to differentiate between authorized and unauthorized trademark user.
Small business owners can benefit from expert guidance in how to protect tangible IP in social media posts in ways that head off trademark brand damage and even unauthorized sharing of trade secrets or patent details. It’s critical to have access to how updates and changes in IP law and the technology landscape can impact IP protection.
The goal is to have expert legal support to ensure proactive management of IP across all current and future mediums and uses. An intellectual property attorney is instrumental to developing a comprehensive IP protection strategy that can evolve along with the digital landscape. In every small business, IP provides the differentiation that drives your competitive advantage. Through a proactive approach to IP management, a skilled Intellectual Property law firm can defend against misuse or abuse while keeping pace with innovation and a changing digital business landscape. If you’re a small business looking to protect your assets as you continue to grow and develop in an ever changing IP climate, reach out to a lawyer specializing in Intellectual Property and management of Copyrights, Trademarks and other assets. He or she will be able to provide appropriate counsel to set your company on the path for long term success.