Being creative is difficult and seems to get more difficult when one is deliberately trying to be creative. Yet, creativity can be expressed in several ways such as art, literary works, names, symbols, and designs. The difficulty of coming up with creative ideas and the potential of those ideas to earn money is the basis of the concept of intellectual property.
Intellectual property is geared towards protecting the unique ideas or creations of entrepreneurs, businesses, inventors, or anyone that came up with the ideas. Not only does intellectual property ensure creators earn recognition for their ideas but they also get protected from unfair competition. This maximizes their potential to earn money from their ideas.
Intellectual property must be protected against accidental or intentional violations by competitors. An example of intellectual property violation is the 2016 lawsuit between Starbucks and New York’s Coffee Culture Cafe due to the latter launching a drink called ‘Freddoccino’ which is similar in name and appearance to Starbucks’ trademarked ‘Frappucino’ coffee.
Below are ways to protect intellectual property:
Apply for patents, trademarks, and copyrights
According to the San Fernando Bar Association referral service—where you can find the right intellectual property lawyer in Los Angeles—copyrights, trademarks, and patents are the primary ways to protect intellectual property. Copyright protection is issued for artistic and written works while trademarks apply to designs, phrases, and all other things associated with the identity of a brand. Patent protection, however, is issued for inventions that could be a new product, a new material, or even new processes.
When it comes to intellectual property these days, it’s always about the first person to file a patent, copyright their work, or get something trademarked. While copyright and trademark are not required to be required, doing so will make it easier to prove they belong to you in court.
Keep your foot on the gas
How prone your innovation is to plagiarism and other forms of infringements depends on its nature. Innovations in the tech sector are especially prone to being exploited and a way to stay ahead of competitors is to keep innovating. Continual innovations is no small task as it requires you to be at the top of your game. However, the benefits of having your competitors always playing catch up and establishing yourself as a true innovator will do wonders for your business.
Report intellectual property violators
Intellectual property protects your rights and your creation and there will be situations when you’ll have to enforce those rights. The Starbucks situation is an example of a business protecting their trademarked product. Another example involves the popular designer brand, Louis Vuitton, suing a South Korean fried chicken restaurant calling itself Louis Vuitton Dak. And the court ruled in favour of Louis Vuitton as the restaurant’s name was too similar to the designer’s trademarked brand name.
Competitors and even businesses in different fields will always try to illegally benefit from your creative ideas. It’s therefore in your interest to report them and get them punished to protect your intellectual property. Also, this will deter others from, at least to an extent, from trying to exploit your intellectual property.
Create confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements for employees
More often than not, important information about businesses are leaked by employees or partners. This makes it imperative for businesses to employ the help of a legal expert to draft strong and clear confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements for intellectual property protection. The benefit of this agreement is that employees, partners, and other parties that know about crucial business information know they will be held liable for leaks.
Every other contract used by the business should also be reviewed by a legal expert to ensure they are drafted with the protection of intellectual property in mind.
Avoid joint ownership
Joint intellectual property ownership can create a lot of complications and problems. It’s possible for intellectual property to be owned by more than more people as in the case of a team that worked together to develop a product, process, and so on. And in such a scenario, all owners have rights to the intellectual property and can distribute or recreate the intellectual property without permission from other owners.
The result of this is a business that’s at risk of exploiting its own intellectual property. Of course, contractual agreements can lessen most of the complications involved with joint ownership of intellectual property but the risks can’t be totally eliminated. A definitive solution to the problems of joint intellectual property ownership is for one entity to retain the rights. However, this requires all parties involved to have a sit down with their respective lawyers to draft the proper agreements.