Intellectual Property is often the most critical aspect of a business. Failing to protect
your intellectual property could prove disastrous, if not fatal, to your company.
Intellectual property includes trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets.
Do you know the difference between a trademark, registered trademark, and
service mark? If you provide services or sell products, trademark protection is crucial!
Trademarks form the basis of your customers’ good will. Branding can keep current
customers, as well as attract new ones. Every successful business has a strong
trademark: Coca Cola®, Microsoft®, Dell®, Blackberry®, Toys R Us®, etc. The
name says it all. We can help you protect your brand and create a strong public
image for your products or services.
Whether you are a photographer, painter, designer, or own a business that has a logo, every business should protect its copyrightable assets. Copyright law protects any “writings,” including art works, musical arrangements, dance choreography, and video productions.
In many instances, copyright and trademarks work together. For example, if your business has a logo, you can protect that image under both trademark and copyright law. These two laws provide different protections for different applications: the copyright will protect the design of your logo, while trademark registration will afford you protection from inappropriate or unauthorized use of your logo.
You do not have to be a multi-million dollar corporation for patents to be important to you. Any business that developes a new product, improves a product, or has a new way of conducting business may protect its asset with patents. Once you have a patent, you can turn it into huge revenues for your business by licensing your rights to others. Do not let large profits go unrealized!
If your business is involved in science and technology, patents are imperative for the protection of your assets. For example, when Eli Lilly lost one of the patents protecting its popular drug Prozac, the company’s stock dropped 28% (see “Lilly, Other Drugmakers Rely On Patents“). As another example, Research in Motion, the company that makes the Blackberry® brand of phones, stood to lose millions of customers if its patent was ruled unenforceable.
When you secure a patent for your design, you are securing confidence among your investors and an edge over your competitors.
Trade secrets are those portions of your business that are unique and essential. Trade secrets range from secret recipes (such as the recipe for Coca Cola) to mailing lists and customer lists. The law requires special care to be taken with trade secrets — if certain procedures are not followed, you could lose your secrets to employees who leave your company to work for a competitor or to a disgruntled employee trying to purposefully damage your company. Protect your trade secrets with strong employment agreements and secure procedures within your company.