How to Protect Your Intellectual Property
What if you ran your own business but weren’t doing enough to protect that business?
Most entrepreneurs dream of making it big with the various ideas, products, and services they develop. Basically, these people are hoping to come up with the next big idea that really puts them and their business on the map.
But what keeps someone else from stealing your big idea and profiting from it? To keep this from happening, you need to protect your intellectual property. Keep reading to discover our guide to keeping your IP safe and the role good business insurance can play.
How Do We Define “Intellectual Property?”
We are going to walk you through how to protect your intellectual property in a number of ways. First, though, we need to answer a very basic question: how is IP actually defined?
The short answer is that almost anything you create can be considered your IP. This includes inventions, books, art, logos, names, symbols, and more. And when done right, a business can successfully leverage solid ideas into a reliable business model.
As we noted before, though, you must beware of other businesses that seek to steal your IP and profit from it. To help keep that from happening, use our different tips below to protect your different kinds of IP.
What Do Copyrights Cover?
How you should protect your IP depends entirely on what you have created. Depending on what it is, you may need to use a copyright, a patent, or a trademark.
What do copyrights actually cover? Basically, things you have written or artistic things you have created. This ranges from books, songs, paintings, and videos all the way to computer code. Copyrights are how your favorite artists, writers, singers, and content creators protect their ideas.
And once you copyright some IP, it keeps people from duplicating or copying your ideas. We recommend that you register such IP with the United States Copyright Office. In the event someone does try to steal your IP, this will help you take them to court.
What Do Patents Cover?
You’ve probably used or seen products that are described as “patented.” But do you know when your business would need to use a patent rather than a copyright or trademark?
A patent is designed to help protect something you invent. In this case, inventions may include things like machines you develop, processes you create, and even modifications you make to existing patented ideas.
Special patents can cover things like the shape of a product you design (such as very distinctive furniture) and even new plants that you breed. Long story short? Your business could likely benefit from patenting some of its products and services. You can get started by applying through the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which should allow you to patent something for a couple of decades.
What Do Trademarks Cover?
Now you know the role of copyrights and patents. But what do trademarks do, and when are these necessary?
Trademarks are relatively simple: they exist to protect things that consumers might use to identify a particular brand. Logos and other pictures, as well as certain words and phrases, may help a consumer recognize your brand. It’s important to use trademarks to protect your products. Though if your business sells services instead of products, you’ll need to use a service mark instead of a trademark.
There is a chance that your state offers state-level trademark protection. But to really keep something safe, you’ll need to file for a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Don’t forget that you will need to frequently use the trademarked material (for example, incorporating it into your sales and marketing methods) in order to enforce the trademark.
Are There Times It’s Better to Keep Things Secret?
You might have heard of successful businesses that don’t take these measures to protect IP. For example, the Coca-Cola company has not made any effort to patent their original Coke formula since the 19th century.
Why would they do this? It all comes down to keeping and maintaining secrets. While things like copyrights and patents help to protect your IP in court if necessary, they also mean disclosing your secrets to someone. For example, when patenting a new invention, you effectively have to tell the public details of how it was invented.
Once the secret is out, your product may lose a bit of mystique. Furthermore, rivals may be able to use the information to develop rival inventions. Like the Coca-Cola company, there may be times you wish to keep things safe simply by keeping them secret. Most of the time, though, it’s better to protect your IP via copyrights, patents, and trademarks.
Can Insurance Help Me Protect My IP?
We keep talking about “protecting your IP.” But if someone actually tries to steal your IP, do you know what you’d do next?
The short answer is that you’ll have to take them to court. And with any luck, you’ll have a documented history of protecting and enforcing your IP that will make the case “open and shut.”
Of course, even open and shut cases can lead to some major legal fees. And if you run a startup or smaller business, these legal fees may be enough to put you out of business.
With the right business insurance, though, you may be able to get enhanced protection that can help cover court costs. It all comes down to finding the right business insurance carrier to meet your needs. And in addition to protecting your IP, such insurance can help protect your property and give you valuable liability protection, which is especially important for brick-and-mortar businesses.
Get the Business Insurance You Deserve Today
Now you know how to protect your IP and the role that business insurance plays. But do you know where you can find the best business insurance today?
Here at Insure One, we can connect you with the insurance coverage that helps protect your greatest ideas. You can request a quote online by visiting our site. Or feel free to visit us at your nearest office. Finally, don’t be afraid to just give us a call at 800-836-2240!