Know Your Rights: Intellectual Property
Protecting your intellectual property (IP) is extremely important for your business. IP rights greatly enhance the value and worth of SMEs in the eyes of investors and financial institutions.
It should be noted that IP is territorial making it necessary to protect your IP abroad should your business expand.
Protecting your intellectual property makes your business much more competitive, giving you the edge over your competitors. Another reason to protect your IP is in relation to negotiations; having an intangible asset will give your business a bargaining chip when negotiating contracts with partners and will allow you to achieve profits through licensing.
There Are Four Main Types of IP:
Used to protect inventive ideas/processes
Considered assets that describe or otherwise identify the source of underlying products or services that a company provides, i.e. MGM lion roar
Procedures, systems, devices or strategies that are confidential and exclusive to the company.
Protect ways in which ideas are expressed, i.e. Original works of ownership.
So How Do You Protecting Your IP?
First you need to identify any IP your company may have. This can be done by simply compiling a list of what you think your company’s IP is and then having you financial advisor or accountant look over it to investigate further. Once your IP has been identified you should file for which type of IP suits your needs. You must also take steps within your company to ensure the further protection of your IP:
- Keep any new technology confidential until you have sought professional advice,
- Use your IP to add value to your products/services,
- Capture all current and potential IP,
- Monitor your competitors for any possible infringement. SnapDragon Monitoring is useful as it monitors ecommerce sites for you. Lastly I’m sure you’re wondering what to do in the case of IP infringement. Well there are a number of options that you can try:
File your Trademark:
This seems too obvious, but it is just so important to make sure this has been done, and done in each country of business.
(Non-disclosure, non-use, non-circumvention). This just means that if you are using a factory for manufacturing, they cannot use your design/idea in a way that directly competes with your business.
Keep changing your packaging to avoid copycats. Many companies will have seasonal packaging or limited editions.
If you do spot a fake product/service, contact the company selling it and find out what their official reporting procedure is. Another good method of dealing with counterfeit products is to buy the fake one and hold a demonstration as to why yours is the better product. Make sure to create and implement a strategy for your IP and to stay calm if there is any infringement on your IP.