If you own a small business, it’s imperative that you’re proactive about safeguarding your company’s intellectual property. If you run a particularly small, local business, you may not think that you have any intellectual property to speak of. But, if your business has a name, if you maintain a website on behalf of your company and if you have a logo or advertise your company’s brand in any way, your business does have intellectual property in need of protection.
There are four primary kinds of intellectual property that small business owners may need to concern themselves with:
- Trade secrets
Each of these kinds of intellectual property protections is safeguarded in a different way and concerns a different kind of intellectual property.
What do you need to know?
If you use novel inventions as part of your business, you will want to seek legal guidance to determine whether your invention needs to be formally patented. If your business benefits from original works of authorship – including visual artwork, songs, significant written material, original software, etc. you may need to register a copyright for this material.
If your company maintains its competitive edge due to original recipes, processes or closely-guarded client lists, for example, you may need to seek legal guidance concerning trade secret safeguards via the contracts you draft with your employees, vendors, etc.
Finally, if your company’s brand is at all recognizable due to its unique name, logo, slogan, etc. it’s time to formally trademark your branding efforts. Otherwise, you may face allegations that you’ve infringed on another company’s rights and/or a competitor could start taking advantage of yours.
In the Digital Age, intellectual property protections are arguably more important than ever. Taking steps to safeguard your company’s interests can help to ensure that your business remains relevant and operational for a long time to come.