Intellectual property (IP) is not necessarily a priority in the minds of all entrepreneurs. However, the violation of copyrights and other infringements of intellectual property rights could lead to a significant expense, so it is important to know the legal limitations and the possibility of you breaking the law.
In order to avoid Intellectual property issues, you first need to understand what the IP is. An IP can either be protected by trademark, patent, copyright or trade secrecy.
Trademarks are commonly used to protect branding aspects that define brand, goods, services, brand and company, these include brand color, taglines and symbols.
Copyrights focus majorly on original artistic work such as book, music, video, picture, website, computer software. Copyrights laws help address intellectual property issues that arise from utilization or commercialization of non-original work while allowing authors to monetize their art.
Inventions and innovations rights are covered and protected under patent. This limits anyone from using, copying, reproducing and selling your work for a specified period of time. You are however required to publicly disclose the invention in exchange for protection.
A trade secret is a unique form of intellectual property in that you don’t seek protection from the government, instead, you simply keep all your proprietary information confidential. Examples of trade secrets include formulae, programs and other information that might be beneficial to your competitors.
Unfortunately, avoiding intellectual property issues in this modern business environment is a challenge. There are numerous and possible ways entrepreneurs unknowingly risk infringing these IP rights on daily basis.
One of the most common and perhaps costliest IP issue entrepreneurs often make is using work they lack patent for. Experts recommend that when outsourcing work for your company whether written, graphics, website or software, ensure you also get rights this work from the creator. In case you fail to do so, the creator may use the information for other purposes without your consent. The worst that can happen is IP robbery, which a developer can use to package and market a different product.
The following tips will help you further avoid intellectual property issues.
Gather enough information
Before you start promoting a product or other content for your company, research and understand the copyrights and patents regarding your idea. You’ll need to even look out for international patent rights especially when dealing with crowdfunding.
Read the good print
One of the best intellectual property practices is to read the actual patent and copyrights under contracts or licenses. Consult with a lawyer if there is a part you don’t understand and seek immediate legal help if you suspect any possible infringement. In case of a dispute, gather every data regarding the contract and prepare a letter informing infringement, forward it your lawyer for review.