Intellectual property (IP) is one of the most important and valuable commodities in business. Protecting the ideas, branding and product you have created can be the difference between you and your competitors, going viral or going unnoticed, and ultimately the survival of your company. If these ideas are being replicated by other businesses in a way that encroaches your IP rights, then you will suffer by being at a competitive disadvantage.
Protecting your intellectual property is always important, but for innovative, creative companies that work with new ideas on a variety of new projects regularly, it is very much your livelihood.
First – Educate Yourself
The first step of protecting your IP is knowing what forms your IP takes. You can flash back to the first part of our IP blog here and take a look at the five different types and decide which one is best suited for the needs of your company. IP isn’t just physical objects. It is most often ideas, systems and particular features that differentiate your product from what your competitor offers. Also, be aware of what is important to your target audience, not just important to you. You may not like the logo or know you will be changing your process but if it’s on the cusp of dominating your market or well into the climatic stages, a patent can ensure your ideas, logos, and differentiators are safe. Additionally, if you can identify what you own and what makes you different, you can be alert to infringements. Knowledge is power.
Hire an Expert and Invest in Yourself
Whilst you can educate yourself to raise awareness of the intellectual property that you own, it is still wise to seek help and advice from an expert in the field, specifically a solicitor that specialises in intellectual property. They will be able to advise you on the cost of applying for protection, the time it takes to complete and can be available to consult if you believe a breach has occurred. Whilst they can be pricey, investing in help with the process and someone there to guide you, can save you money in the long run. Lastly, invest in yourself and the future of your company or idea. Having a plan for international patents, well-written non-disclosure acts, and the knowledge of different types of intellectual property ensures you’re on the right path.
Ashely V Brewer, attorney at BrewerLong states: “Protect early. Protect creatively. Protect carefully.”* If your IP is highly unique, such as code or an industry secret, then begin the process of protection as soon as possible. Protecting your intellectual property isn’t straightforward and the process can often turnover unanswerable questions, unexpected issues, and roadblocks the applicant could not foresee, stalling the process even further. Don’t let thinking “no one will copy us” or “it’s too expensive and not worth it” stop you from potentially losing your idea and putting your business at risk