How can I protect my business’s intellectual property?

Ideas are integral to the success of a business. Protecting new inventions, processes, and concepts is crucial in this case, as you do not want competitors to take your ideas and use them for their own purposes. Forbes explains some effective methods of safeguarding sensitive information so your business will continue to thrive.

Firstly, do not be deterred from taking the proper steps, whether that entails filing a trademark, copyright, or patent. You might think that your ideas will not be copied or that your brand is not well-known enough to warrant protection, but keep in mind IP theft does occur quite frequently. Also, do not be put off by the cost of securing a skilled lawyer. Keep in mind that if your information is breached and you do not have protections in place, you will have no legal recourse to pursue the party.

Before you get started on the process, perform a search to see if the idea has already been patented. Where you look for this information will depend on what type of process you plan on pursuing. Common sources include the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office or the U.S. Copyright Office, both of which can be accessed online. You can also perform a general search online, as well as doing a search of social media. You do not want to move forward with the process only to find that someone has already patented your idea.

You can also draft contracts to ensure workers and business associate are well-informed about their relationship to intellectual property. Non-disclosure agreements are essential in this case, and they can also provide protection after employment has been terminated by either party. Because trade secrets cannot be legally protected, you must draft a valid and legally binding agreement to ensure they will not be shared.