3 Key Steps to Protecting Your Intellectual Property

by cbennett on October 14, 2012

Many people don’t realize that intellectual property is often far more valuable than actual physical property. Intellectual property is something created by a certain person that is unique and has the possibility of bringing them economic benefit. This ‘property’ doesn’t even have to be touchable; it can be something as intangible as a trade secret (ie. the Colonel’s Secret Recipe). This makes intellectual property excessively valuable, so it is important for a person or company to know how to protect these assets and defend them if they’re stolen.

What if Someone Violates Intellectual Property Laws?

The easiest and most common way to handle a violation of intellectual property law is to send a ‘cease and desist’ letter. These letters will inform the violating party of their infringement and request that they stop. Solutions can also be recommended in the letter as to how to resolve the issue of the infringement leading to possible economic loss to the property owner. This can be as simple as asking the violator to remove the material that is infringing or requesting a fee for the use of the property. Most intellectual property law violators will realize their mistake and quickly remedy it, but it sometimes becomes necessary to take a legal course of action to learn how to file a complaint about a business.

Steps to Protecting Intellectual Property

1. Register a Copyright:

Copyrights are meant to protect original works that are fixed on a tangible medium such as paper, film or audio tape. Even software and photographs can be protected with a copyright. It is sometimes enough to simply put a copyright symbol on the work to protect it, but actually registering a copyright makes it far easier to defend it in a court of law.

2. Get a Trademark

Trademarks protect the name of certain products in an effort to prevent others from benefitting from the use of the name. It’s easy to imagine how a startup company with no relation to Apple would benefit from putting ‘Apple’ in front of one of their product names. This is why trademark registration is so important; it prevents consumers from being misled into thinking they’re buying a product from a certain company. This also protects the profits of the company with the trademark.

3. Obtain a Patent

Patents are meant to protect products or processes that are non-obvious, useful and unique. The patent is meant to stop others from selling or making a product, and it can also prevent others from using a certain process to make their own products. Just imagine how rich a company would become if it had a patent on the ‘assembly line’ process. Processes and products are the backbone of many companies, so it is important that they’re protected.

Filing for any of the aforementioned protections can sometimes become a hassle. It is necessary to do research to make sure trademarks haven’t already been registered or patents filed, so it is often pertinent to hire a lawyer to handle these issues.

Protecting intellectual property is vital in the modern world. It is unfortunate that selling a product or service online can lead to someone copying it and attempting to resell it thousands of miles away. No one should benefit from another’s ideas without their express consent, so it is vital that individuals take proactive and reactive measures in protecting their ideas. Copyright, trademark and patent infringements are often just honest mistakes that can be easily remedied by alerting the imposing party of the infringement, but it sometimes becomes necessary to hire a lawyer when a business is illegally and continuously using another’s intellectual property.

Chris Bennett is a freelance writer and legal researcher on how to file a complaint about a business. Intellectual property laws are convoluted at best and it is best to consult a lawyer or another outside resource such as grapevine.com to ensure your rights are protected.

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