Originality plays a crucial role in the success of any business. As a result, companies are constantly coming up with ideas to stay ahead of the competition. However, these ideas are not always protected and can be easily stolen or copied by others. According to data, an average of 12,000 cases of Intellectual Property (IP) infringement get filed each year in the US alone. This part is where intellectual property rights come in.
What are Intellectual Property Rights?
Intellectual property rights protect your business’s creativity and innovation. These rights include patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Companies need to understand and use these rights to their advantage. By protecting your intellectual property, you are safeguarding your business’s competitive edge.
How Can Businesses Protect Their Intellectual Property?
There are many ways to go about protecting your intellectual property. Below are the three key ways to get started:
Ensure Product Patent
Patents grant the owner the exclusive right to make, use, and sell an invention for a certain period. It allows you to exclude others from making, using or selling your invention. So, if you invented a consumer product, you must have patent rights for its design. This way, if someone tries to claim it as their own, you can prove that you are the rightful owner.
Many businesses choose to file a provisional patent application first. That is because it’s less expensive and gives you more time to work on your invention. You can also opt for design patents. These patents protect the ornamental design of your product. However, note that design patents will only get granted if your product is original and not functional.
To obtain a patent, you must file a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This part is where professionals such as your lawyer and an experienced consumer product patent expert witness can help. These people are familiar with the patent application process and can guide you. Patent law can be complex, but with the proper guidance, you can safeguard your business’s interests.
By filing for a patent, you are ensuring that your invention is protected from being copied or sold without your permission. Thus, giving you the sole right to commercially benefit from it.
Obtain Trademark Registration
A trademark is a sign that distinguishes your goods and services from those of other businesses. It can be in the form of a name, phrase, logo, image, sound, or smell. Once you have a federally registered trademark, you can use the ® symbol next to your trademark. It shows that your trademark is fully protected by law.
You can file a trademark application online through the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). After that, someone from the USPTO will review your application and decide whether to approve it. The entire process can take anywhere from several months to a year.
It would be best to consult an experienced trademark attorney before filing for a trademark. They can help you determine whether your trademark is eligible for protection and support you through every step of the process. This way, you’ll be in a much better position to register your trademark successfully.
Invest in Copyright Registration
Copyrights protect expressions of ideas, such as books, movies, music, and art. They give the creators the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and perform their work. In some cases, copyright also covers derivative works or adaptations of the original copyrighted work.
Most copyrightable works are automatically copyrighted the moment they’re created. However, registering your work with the US Copyright Office provides additional legal protections. It also makes it easier to enforce your rights if someone infringes on your copyright.
To register a copyright, you must first create a login account on the US Copyright Office’s website. After that, you can fill out the copyright application form and submit it online, along with the required fees. The US Copyright Office will review your application and decide whether to approve it.
It might sound like a tedious and costly process, but investing in copyright registration is worth it as it can give you peace of mind knowing that your work is fully protected by law.
If you have an invention that you want to bring to market or a brand that you want to protect, it is crucial to understand your intellectual property rights. The above items are all ways you can safeguard your business’s creativity and innovation. By taking the time to file the appropriate applications, you can ensure that your intellectual property is protected. So, don’t wait, start taking steps to protect your business today.