When you come up with a new idea, product, or invention, it is known as your intellectual property (IP). And like anything that can make money, it is always in your best interest to protect your new IP beyond the automatic copyright protection you are granted under the law.
Hire the Right Legal Representation
First and foremost, you need to consult with an expert legal team. Lawyers can help you protect your products. But also where you stand under the law, how you can protect your IP moving forward, and what you can do in a dispute. And IP law protects all kinds of products, no more than software, where disputes can be complex and bitter. The video games industry is a perfect example. In this case, a SaaS law firm (Software-as-as-Service) can help protect your products. This includes cloud-based software, how clients pay, and service agreements.
Copyright is a difficult topic to fully grasp. In a nutshell, though, it is a class of intellectual property that protects original works of art or creative writing. Books, art, and drawings, or any combination of these things that a company makes can be licensed with copyrights. Copyright can also be used to protect digital content, which is automatically protected when it is made. This includes everything from web content to digital art to code. But it’s important to keep in mind that NFTs are not protected by copyright laws because they are not the original works.
Protect Your New IP with Trademarks
Some people get copyright and trademarks mixed up, and you might think that they are the same thing. But trademarks are different, and you should register them right away. Trademarks are things like brand names, emblems, and logos that make something stand out. Basically, they are used to set your products or services apart from those of a competitor. Usually, these are things like specific words, a picture, or a way of advertising. There are many benefits to registering a trademark, one of which is that it protects your brand from being copied.
Register Any Patents
You can think of your new IP as an invention. Most of the time, patents are used to record inventions. Most inventions are unique things that most people don’t know about. A patent must also explain how your new piece of intellectual property works. In order to get a patent, technical data about the invention must be publicly disclosed through a patent application. A patent is helpful in many ways. In short, it lets you stop other people from copying, making, or attempting to sell your invention without your express permission. And ensures you hold the rights to it.
Keep Records of Prototypes
Antitrust and industrial espionage doesn’t just happen in the movies. It’s a real thing that could happen to your business. There are also ways for your competitors to find out about an invention through leaks and then apply for a patent on it as if it were their own. In these situations, you will have to verify that you own the IP. You can show a lot of support for your case by keeping proof of how intellectual property rights have changed over time. This includes its version history, which is an excellent way to demonstrate its internal designs and procedures.
Try Not to Share Your Ideas
People can and will steal your ideas and pass them off as their own, as in well-known cases like Facebook shows. So, don’t tell anyone about your ideas until you’ve made sure they’re safe. This is because the person you tell might try to make a patent application before you do and take ownership of it. If you need to tell certain people, like employees or investors, about inventions and IP development, make sure you follow the law (see below) to stop leaks. Most of the time, you can use agreements that everyone at a meeting needs to sign before they attend.
Protecting Your IP Legally
When it comes to protecting your intellectual property, the law is your best friend. Of course, legal disputes over IP can become bitter. But you can take action to protect your IP from leaking beforehand, so nobody who shouldn’t see your properties does. You can try these:
- Ensure employees sign non-disclosure agreements around product development.
- Hold regular meetings with reputable lawyers educated on intellectual property law.
- Take legal action swiftly if someone has infringed on your developments and property.
- Stay vigilant and on top of local and international laws concerning your IP rights.
These are all extra vigilant steps you can take to protect your property. Of course, it also helps to have a legal team in place and physically present at any meetings where knowledge of your IP is shared. This helps ensure there are multiple and legal records of anyone else present.
Don’t Apply for Joint Ownership
Most of the time, you need the help of others to succeed in business. But having these rights owned by more than one person can lead to confusion and legal problems that put these assets at risk and hurt everyone involved. So you should try to avoid having intellectual property rights that are shared. Whether you’re an individual or a business, it’s always best to be the only one in charge of your IP rights. In the long run, this pays off in a big way. The more successful an idea is, the more likely it is that you will be sued or accused of stealing it from someone else.
Educate Your Employees About IP
In many cases, a company’s intellectual property gets out because of a mistake or a lack of skill. And simple mistakes made by people are often to blame. So, you should make sure that your employees are aware of the ways they could accidentally reveal IP. Intellectual Property (IP) breaches can be fixed and prevented with awareness training. But this only works when you restrict the awareness to the people working with it. For example, you should ensure that awareness training is given to the scientists and technicians working on a specific project.
Classify Your IP Records
Just like employees sometimes leak information by accident, insiders or workers who are upset with their jobs often mess with classified records. So you should give the enforcement of protection policies a lot of attention. You should inform your employees about IP policies and practices, as well as what the consequences of their actions are. A data protection policy should say what information needs to be kept safe, where it lives, and who can see it. And how it needs to be kept safe. It should also say how to handle private information during the chain of custody.
Protect Your New IP with Access Control
Too many people have too much access to things they shouldn’t. And this makes you lose things, such as data. So, you should keep things like documents, creative works, and concepts in a safe place. This includes both drives with security and storage in the real world. A system for managing identities and access should also be used to keep these safe. For example, you can use keycards to limit who can get into a physical site. Or, you could use a password system, multi-factor authentication, and being aware of social engineering to protect network data.
Apply for Legal Documents ASAP
It takes a long time to get the legal papers you need to protect your IP. So, you should get it done as soon as you can. Most of the time, getting a patent takes between 2 and 4 years. But there are times when you can speed up the process of getting your patent. This cuts the wait time down to less than a year. For inventions that help the environment, it is possible to get approval quickly. And those that have already gotten a suitable assessment from a patent office after being looked at. On the other hand, it takes about six months to get a trademark.
Be Aware of IP Scams
Criminals can try to make money off of your IP. Scammers are sending more fake letters to people who want to register trademarks or patents or already own them. In these letters, the IP scammers ask for money in exchange for registering their information. And a lot of people think these are real. So, if you want to avoid getting scammed, you should only make applications through official bodies or patent and trademark attorneys. If you get a letter about intellectual property out of the blue, be careful about what you say and talk to your legal team first.
Intellectual property theft is common, so you need to protect your new IP. Copyright is automatically granted under the law. But there are further steps you must take. You can hire industry-trained lawyers, take legal protection steps and stay aware of complicated IP scams.