Often, your intellectual property is what will differentiate your business from that of a competitor. Assets such as your name, logo, trade secrets, and any creative processes and inventions all bear importance in making your business what it is. As your business continues to grow, so too will the importance of these intangible assets and the risk that another business or individual copies or infringes them.
It is important you take steps to mitigate these risks. For example, as you hire more employees, you risk the possibility that they use your intellectual property such as your trade secrets or processes if they depart. You should ensure you have well-drafted employment contracts in place which prevent them from doing so. Similarly, you may be in contact with more potential suppliers or partners as your business grows and it will be important to manage your intellectual property through robust confidentiality agreements.
LegalVision’s intellectual property lawyers can help you understand the different types of intellectual property that exist and guide you through the steps to protect what is yours. It is important to note that protecting your intellectual property is not only about getting a trade mark or patenting an invention, but also protecting trade secrets and confidential information.
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5 Things You Need to Know About Protecting your Intellectual Property
1Trade marking your business trade marks, and patenting inventions, are two common ways to protect a business’s intellectual property, but intellectual property is not limited to those two areas. Trade secrets and confidential information should also be protected as far as possible.
2You need to protect your business’ intellectual property from use by departing employees. It is important that your employment contracts set out the employee’s obligations with regards to IP, both during and after the employment. If you’re not sure whether your employment contracts are up to scratch, get them checked by an employment lawyer.
3Another way in which trade secrets are lost is by businesses not protecting themselves when dealing with partners, customers and suppliers. Often it’s necessary to provide confidential information to a potential customer or supplier to secure a deal. It’s vital to protect that IP as far as possible in such situations.
4The first step is to sign a confidentiality agreement. If you proceed to do business with the other party, the next contract can deal with the intellectual property in more detail, for example, whether the intellectual property that is created is assigned (sold) or licensed to the other business.
5If your intellectual property has been copied or stolen by a competitor, you should consider taking legal action. The first step may be a cease and desist letter, to stop them using your intellectual property. An IP lawyer will be able to assess your situation, and determine whether you have a good case.