Protecting intellectual property is a high priority for business owners across California, particularly in areas such as technology, transportation, entertainment and other highly competitive industries. Everything from branding to marketing can hinge on if and how a business protects the creative elements that set it apart from others.
As such, it is important to take early and deliberate steps to protect any intellectual property your company (or employees) might have. Below, we examine a few options you may want to explore.
- Patents: Patents can protect any inventions your company may have. You can apply for a patent to cover new technical solutions that are novel, useful and nonobvious.
- Copyrights: Copyrights protect literary and artistic works. These can include any drawings, ads, computer programs, films or music that you or your company creates. Copyrights could also protect slogans and logos, in some cases.
- Trademarks: Property that you want to distinguish as one belonging to your company can be protected with a trademark. As a business owner, you might trademark packaging, fragrances, color shades, and even words and letters that differentiate your company from another company.
Beyond these protections, you can also put in place confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements to prevent employees and partners from sharing protected intellectual property and trade secrets with competitors.
Having a patent, copyright or trademark in place, combined with NDA's with your employees and vendors, are crucial steps in protecting your intellectual property. However, you must also enforce your ownership. This could mean completing licensing agreements or taking legal action against parties for unauthorized use.
At every step of this process, it can be wise to have an attorney by your side. Not only can an attorney help you navigate the legal process, but he or she can also inform you of your options and rights to help you avoid costly mistakes.