Intellectual property (IP) can cover a variety of elements, from patents and registered designs to your business trade secrets. It is crucial to the success of your company that you protect your IP, as this can be as important as the products or services you sell – sometimes more so.
If your business is based on your IP (for example, a patent), then it becomes even more vital to protect this. With that in mind, these intellectual property protection tips will help you protect your business and enable it to benefit from IP.
Get a good understanding of IP
IP is an intangible asset that can make or break your business. It encompasses creations of the mind, including patents, designs, copyright works, and trade marks. IP can be protected through a variety of legal measures that offer recognition and help protect business revenue. If managed correctly with conscious planning, this can safeguard a business’ assets and ensure healthy relationships with clients, partners and competitors alike.
How does IP relate to my business?
Whether you are an inventor, creative designer, writer or software developer, your work will often constitute IP. If you seek the appropriate help and protect your ideas, this can work to protect the longevity of your business, prevent competitors benefiting from your IP and give you options to licence or sell your IP rights in the future.
How can IP affect my business?
If unprotected, your lead competitor can take advantage of your IP, and potentially take your product to market before you. Speed is everything, meaning you could lose your competitive edge and potential customers, damaging both your reputation and cash flow. Once you have protected your IP, your competitive edge and market share is safeguarded. This gives you a right of challenge, but also the opportunity to sell the IP if your business wishes to step out of the market or diversify.
Do I need a trade mark?
If you have niche product, an online business, or have plans to expand your business, securing registered trade mark protection allows you to stop those that get too close to your brand and also adds value to your business as an intangible asset in the event you wish to sell. For more information, see trademarks.
Working with contractors and suppliers
If you collaborate with contractors, freelancers or non-employees on any form of IP creation or development for your business, you should put in place a written agreement which not only describes and records the IP but also states that all IP created belongs to your business. Otherwise, the IP remains with your contractor. If you need to disclose any confidential information or trade secrets to third party suppliers, either prior to negotiations or upon commissioning work, always draw up a confidentiality agreement beforehand.
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