What is Intellectual Property?
It is important for business owners to protect their intellectual property. Intellectual property (IP) refers to the intangible, often creative, parts of your business, such as symbols, business logos, designs, inventions, and written works. IP law provides legal protection for your business’s intangible creations by stopping competitors from stealing your ideas and enabling your business to profit from your business’s creation of these intangible works.
Trademarks. Do you have a business name, tagline, logo, or specific packaging that you do not want your competitors to use? If the answer is yes, you may want to consider exploring trademark protection. What can be trademarked? Lots of things, such as words or combinations of words, letters, numbers, drawings, symbols, packaging, sounds, fragrances, colors, or any other sign that distinguishes your product.
Patents. A patent is an exclusive right to protect an invention, which is a specific process or product. Obtaining a patent can be a complicated process and involves revealing technical information about the invention to the public in a patent application. The process can also be quite costly. This often deters businesses from obtaining a patent, but this form of IP protection can significantly benefit your business.
Copyrights. A copyright protects literary and artistic works like books, music, paintings, sculptures, advertisements, maps, technical drawings, computer programs, and films. A copyright is different from a patent or a trademark because it protects only the expression or intellectual creation, not the idea, procedures, or methods of creating the product. A copyright exists as soon as the expression comes into existence, and there is no registration requirement.
Most businesses already have an IP portfolio made up of some or all of the above. Consulting an attorney can help you consider how to protect your portfolio as your business continues to grow.