Companies need to protect their IP because even intangible assets like logos and brand names are valuable. This information can be stolen by ne'er-do-wells, and it can take a long time to track them down and get your property back.
A successful IP protection strategy requires connections and communication between corporate functions such as legal, human resources, IT, R&D, and engineering. Employee awareness and training are also key tools.
What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property encompasses any creation of the human mind. This includes everything from the content of books to designs of inventions, computer software, and company logos. However, unlike other forms of property, intellectual property is not tangible or affixed to a particular piece of real estate. Moreover, intellectual property is non-rivalrous, meaning it can be used by an infinite number of people without depriving the original owner.
Because of these characteristics, it’s important to protect your intellectual property from copycats, thieves, and ne’er-do-wells. After all, it took a lot of brainpower and time for you or your team to create your IP, and it’s not fair for someone else to steal it.
The owner of your intellectual property is a complex issue because it can be determined differently depending on the type of intellectual property and the circumstances. For example, if you have an invention that you want to keep private, you might file for patent protection with the USPTO. This will prevent others from producing, manufacturing, or selling your invention unless they’ve obtained a license. However, this can be tricky because your patent is only valid for 20 years from the date of filing, and you’ll have to pay fees and perform other requirements to maintain it.
On the other hand, if you’re developing a new video game and you don’t want it to leak before it’s released, you might ask your employees who have access to the game’s code to sign confidentiality agreements. This will help ensure that the game’s information remains secret and allows you to monetize it.
For intangible assets, such as trademarks and patents, the creator is generally considered the owner, but this isn’t always true. For example, companies often include contracts in employee manuals that stipulate any inventions made on the job become the employer’s property. Similarly, when you’re the originator of a song, you own its rights and can take legal action against anyone who uses it without permission. This is also known as a copyright. If you receive a notice from YouTube that an influencer has used your song without authorization, read What to Do if you get a copyright infringement notice for more tips.
What Items Are Included in Intellectual Property?
For many businesses, intellectual property (IP) is the foundation of their value. In a business environment where many companies derive revenue from intangible assets instead of physical ones, it is more important than ever to protect these valuable assets. This is where an intellectual property lawyer can help.
Intellectual property law allows creators to claim ownership of their creative work just as they would a physical asset such as a car or a home. This claim comes with rights and protections that allow creators to reap the benefits of their hard work. These rights include patents, industrial designs, copyrights, and trademarks. These rights prevent others from using your IP without permission, which can be a great asset for your company in driving growth and innovation.
Most of these rights are granted automatically upon creation, while others require filing to obtain. For instance, copyright protection extends to art, music, and writing, and can be registered online. Trademarks and patents can be filed for inventions, product names, and logos to create brand recognition.
These protections can also be transferred, as in the case of employee creations made in the course of their employment, which are often assigned to their employer. Collaborative works can also be protected by the joint work provision of copyright law, as detailed in The Basics of Joint Work and Copyright. Lastly, databases consisting of collections of ordered data can be protected under database rights laws in countries that have joined the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on the Legal Protection of Databases.
With the right legal guidance, intellectual property designations, and protections can help a company’s intangible assets become real tangible investments that add significant value to your business. Post your intellectual property legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace, and get connected with top-rated lawyers who can provide the advice and counsel you need to effectively protect your intellectual property.
How Can I Protect My Intellectual Property?
When you’ve created content, products, or ideas that add value to your business, you should make it a priority to protect them from theft and copying. There are a variety of ways to do this, ranging from legal IP protection measures like strong non-disclosure agreements to cybersecurity computer programs that can help prevent the information from ever getting into the wrong hands.
In addition to patenting or copyrighting your creations, it’s important to document all your intellectual property. This can include detailed drawings, technical information, descriptions, and plans. It’s also important to time stamp all these documents so that you can prove your rightful ownership of them if necessary in the future.
Another option for securing your intellectual property is to use cloud-based software to monitor the activity of your employees, including file activity on portable storage devices, visits to risky websites and other digital behaviors that might indicate a threat. This type of data visibility can help you identify potential intellectual property theft and take action quickly.
Many companies go to extreme lengths to protect their most sensitive information and products, such as Coca-Cola, which keeps its original formula under lock and key in a purpose-built vault with a steel door, a palm scanner, a numeric code pad and only two senior executives who have signed non-disclosure agreements. While this level of security isn’t practical for most businesses, it highlights the value that some companies place on their intellectual property and the importance of protecting it.
It’s a good idea to work with an experienced IP attorney to help discover, document, and register all of your intellectual property rights. While this may seem like an expensive process, it can save your company money in the long run by preventing you from losing the rights to your creative works.
Whether you’re an established or start-up business, you can lose a lot of revenue if someone steals your intellectual property. Take steps to secure your intellectual property so you can continue to create and innovate for the benefit of your customers. By doing so, you can build a solid foundation for success.
How Can I Protect My IP Online?
While it may seem daunting to protect your intellectual property, especially in the age of information, it is not as hard or expensive as it might seem. Whether it’s a website or online software, trademarks, patents, copyrights, and license agreements can help safeguard your creations and work from infringers and thieves. While registering IP isn’t always mandatory, it’s a good idea to do so as soon as possible in order to establish your rights.
When you use the internet, your device leaves a digital footprint that can be traced back to your physical location and identity through your public IP address. An IP address is a unique number assigned to every device connected to the internet that allows the devices to communicate with one another. Your IP address is incredibly personal information, and it’s not uncommon for cybercriminals to use this information to spy on your behavior.
As a result, many people are looking for ways to hide their IP addresses. They do so for a variety of reasons. Some people wish to avoid being tracked by websites that collect data on browsing habits for marketing purposes, while others want to stay off of public WiFi networks that can be a breeding ground for hackers. People who work from home or who have sensitive information on their computers and phones can benefit from keeping their IP addresses private, as well.
Other people find their IP addresses useful in bypassing government censorship and preserving their privacy. For example, people living in China, Iran, and other restrictive countries often utilize VPN services to avoid censorship and access the full range of media available on the web. Additionally, journalists and activists who work online will sometimes find it helpful to conceal their IP address in order to preserve their privacy.
Finally, some people choose to hide their IP addresses because they’re concerned about their safety on the internet. This can be because they’re using public WiFi networks or because they are worried about cybercriminals or government agencies monitoring their activity. A person may also want to hide their IP address if they’re worried about someone stealing their credit card information or banking credentials, or if they have a child that is involved in a scam or other cybercrime.
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