If another business is able to copy or steal your ideas, inventions, contacts, designs or knowledge your business is at risk. Protecting your ideas and intellectual property is crucial for the sustainability of your business, potential investors will reluctant to invest in a company whose intangible assets are not protected.
There are five main ways to protect your business’s intellectual property.
You need to register your businesses logos, pictures and designs to allow you to take action against anyone who infringes on them. You can register a trademark easily worldwide with one application.
You can protect the distinctiveness of how your product looks or feels including shapes and colours, material or contours by registering the design.
Use a patent for new inventions, processes, products or technology that can be made. You must not disclose your work before you apply for a patent as it will invalidate the application. You will need to apply for a patent in every country you want to trade in.
Copyright is an automatic right that you do not have to apply for. You can simply protect yourself by using the copyright symbol. However, it is a good idea to obtain external proof that you created the work or document.
You can sell the copyright to your works and control how it is used to an extent by using your ‘moral right’.
Ensuring that your business retains the intellectual property that your employee’s make is vital, this should be written into all employment contracts. Within employment contracts you should also ensure your employees cannot leave take your clients with them when they leave the company, this is particularly common in the service sector where relationships are key to a businesses success.
When working with external businesses, including consultants make sure you have a non-disclosure agreement in place.