Strategy on how to protect your intellectual property
Can I copyright my idea? How do I protect my Idea before it’s public? If you’re a small business owners asking these questions you need a strategy to protect your intellectual property – learn how!
Every small business owner has faced the same dilemma: “How do I protect my idea?” Intellectual property is one of the most important things for your business, and it’s only natural to protect it.
It doesn’t only protect the product or idea, but the asset of the business as well. There are different things you can use to separate your business from others, but one thing is for sure – it must stay protected.
According to the NCPC,
The U.S. economy loses $58 billion each year to copyright infringement alone—crimes that affect creative works. That includes $16 billion in the loss of revenue to copyright owners and $3 billion in lost tax revenue.
Social media has exponentially increased the ability for a business to reach it’s audience, but it has also increased the chance of theft. Taking all of that into account, there are some strategies to protect your intellectual property.
1. Be careful about sharing your ideas
One of the most frequent mistakes people make is confiding their ideas in someone they think they can trust. Often, though, it proves that the person you confided in isn’t so trustworthy after all. That’s why, to minimize your chances of theft, keep your ideas to yourself.
Remember that there will always be people who want to profit off others ideas. That’s why it’s not a bad idea to pursue a patent when applicable.
If you’re working with an outsourcing partner, you’ll need to be very careful. They need to have adequate security placed on your IP when working on it. The need for more carefulness arises when your partner is overseas, as the risk of theft becomes greater.
No matter what you do with your IP, look into ways to keep it secure. You never know who might be eager to get a hold of it.
Whenever sensitive information needs to be shared between two parties it is a good idea to use a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement. This agreement will help formalize the relationship and provide legal remedies if the confidential information is released.
You can quickly and easily create an NDA for your business here.
Overall, being discreet will go a long way in helping to protect your intellectual property.
2. Talk to a lawyer
Professionals have more experience with issues like this because they deal with them every day. After all, that’s their job. That’s why it’s an excellent idea to look to a lawyer for guidance.
You can protect your IP with a patent, trademark or design rights. What you need is specific to the line of work you do, and an expert will be quick to tell you which one suits your business most. It’s always a good ideas to research professionals near you for example if you were located in Sydney Australia you would contact professional Sidney lawyers, or IP attorneys close to whatever your location may be.
Some business owners may be too proud to seek professional help, but that kind of attitude isn’t right for anyone who wants to succeed. There’s nothing wrong in accepting well – needed guidance for the good of your business.
A good business lawyer is also good for informing you about all the details – what you need to protect, how to do it, the timelines for applying (when and where).
Finally, an expert will help you with your budget and finances regarding protecting your intellectual property.
3. Have good security measures
Security measures are a must when dealing with delicate subjects such as this. The minimum you can do is label the source code with a confidentiality notice. That will warn that no one unauthorized is to use the code.
Simply, it seals the production within your company and doesn’t allow anyone on the outside to use it.
What’s more, you can have authorized personnel, which means only a limited circle of people will be allowed to work on the code. Those people should be your most trusted employees.
To clarify; companies often hire or invest in employees to develop new products, improve processes, create new technologies, in short – intellectual property. With this investment, it should come as no surprise that employers generally own the intellectual property created by its employees in the course of their employment.
However, intellectual property that is created by an employee, other than in the course of employment, is owned by the employee not the employer.
This distinction can lead to confusion when it comes to who actually owns the rights to IP created – it pays to understand this fact and have signed contracts in place for additional clarity.
In regards to software, one final step you can take is when your software is released to the public; you can use third – party digital encryption to ensure nobody will get the hold of your code. There are a number of options for that online.
It’s important to remember that there are more ways of keeping your property discreet than just being careful about who you tell about it. That’s why these minimal security measures are a must.
4. Make sure you’ve covered the legal basis
Working with a developer always asks for strong legal agreements, regardless if that developer is local or from overseas. Those legal agreements need to be enforceable and valid in the developer’s local court system, too.
It can be tiresome to keep track of them, and sometimes you aren’t even sure if you’ve done everything correctly. That’s why it’s advisable to get some help from a lawyer on this issue, as well. An expert will make sure all your legal agreements are strong and enforceable.
Another important thing you need to make sure is done properly in this domain is the encryption. It needs to be strong and handle the most sensitive of IPs. What’s more, the partner you are working with needs to have the same levels of encryption as you.
Though this may seem like a lot, it’s much safer and cheaper than leaving it up to chance. As it was already mentioned, having a lawyer will help deal with these issues without the stress.
5. Keep a log of everything
Though you may be doing everything well, and business is prospering, it’s a good idea to write everything down. You never know when a crisis or an attempt of theft might occur. Keeping a log of your actions will help you deal with that efficiently, and save you your nerves.
This is another step you can take aside from having a patent. It will help you deal with theft if it occurs in a far quicker manner. Think of it as further evidence of the intellectual property being yours, as it holds all the data of what you’ve done to protect it.
You should start with your idea and include as much detail as possible. Update your log after every meeting while the outcome of it is still fresh in your mind. Make sure not to forget the dates and times.
As you can see, protecting your intellectual property doesn’t have to be hard or scary. The process may seem complicated, but with the right help, you’ll be protected in no time. Every responsible business owner will look into the next smartest steps for their business, and if success is your goal, you’ll be one of them. We’re confident that you’ve got the right assets, and now the knowledge, to make your company everything it can be.