Importance of Intellectual Property Protection
Intellectual property is the heart and core of any organization. It’s where most of the company’s intellect goes, and that exact intelligence used to build your business is what makes your business more and more valuable.
IP is considered to be more valuable than physical property and therefore it is necessary to protect and safeguard it.
But before that let us first understand –
What is intellectual property?
According to the WIPO’s (World Intellectual Property Organization), it refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names, and images used in trade & commerce.
IP covers a wide range of topics be it - an idea, a business plan or a product plan, a brand name or a brand logo, a trading secret, etc.
In simple words, IP is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human mind. It is intangible proprietary information that should be protected in order to enhance your competitive advantage in the marketplace. To put it simply – IP is just mere ownership of one’s ideas.
Now the next question that usually comes up is –
What is the need to protect intellectual property?
Businesses usually are unaware of the fact that IP rights are also a part of their business assets and this intangible property should also be protected just like the tangible property. Intellectual Property can consist of many different areas, from logos and corporate identity to products, services, and processes that differentiate your business offering.
It’s when these ideas are used without permission that an organization can suffer. When one has a great idea for a product or service, there will always be people who would want to duplicate your ideas and sell them as their own.
According to law, IP can be protected with patents, copyrights, trademarks, etc. which enable people to gain ownership and earn recognition for their idea, innovation, and creation.
It is crucial for organizations to know that they might face losses when their ideas are used by others without their consent.
So, the organization should understand the dark forces that can get your information and ideas and piece it together in a useful way and maybe can get some financial benefit from it. So in order to prevent your company from all this hassle, one should protect their IP.
The majority of the new entrepreneurs and business owners don’t recognize the need for protection and the one who knows doesn’t know where to start.
Following are a few tips that should be kept in mind w.r.t. Intellectual Property –
Scrutinize your working
Make sure that the remote employees of your company are accessing the IP in a proper manner and if you are outsourcing your work, then make it a priority to keep a check on the security of your IP.
Hire an Auditor
If you are someone who thinks all this is just an added burden, then you must hire an auditor who can manage your patents, trademarks, and related matters. Get an IP audit conducted. It can be an effective tool to manage your IPR(s).
Avoid Joint Ownership for IPR(s)
It’s always beneficial to have control of your rights. Jointly owned intellectual property rights face challenges at each and every stage of the patenting process and differing business needs create different patent coverage needs. Failure among co-owners to reach consensus may affect the business.
Validate your idea
Cross-check and research properly regarding your idea and make sure that it is unique and solely yours. To be cent percent sure you can search through patent and copyright databases to have a confirmation.
Keep a record and maintain evidence
Keeping an accurate record and evidence of your own innovation is half the battle won. It might be possible that your rivals get to know about your idea or innovation from leaks. So, preserve the evidence that can prove you to be the real owner.
Ways to protect Intellectual Property
Initially, it may seem time-consuming but protecting your IP is well worth the time and effort and it isn’t as difficult as you may think. The primary ways to safeguard your intellectual property are –
This kind of protection is for written and artistic works like paintings, sculptures, recordings, literary works of fiction and nonfiction, emails, etc. Copyright prevents others from copying or duplicating your work unless they have your consent. The duration of copyright is the lifetime of the creator/owner plus 70 years.
If somebody uses your work without your permission, you can file a court case and can take legal action.
This kind of protection is available for inventions like new machines, new processes, new combinations or modifications of existing patents, etc. Generally, patents are protected for a period of 20 years.
This kind of protection applies to a word, phrase, logo, or a combination of all these that act as an identification mark for the source of goods. In simple words, it is a mark that uniquely identifies a company. If services are being sold instead of goods, it is known as a service mark.
To enforce your trademark in court, you need to submit proof that you were the first one to use the trademark and that you have used it openly and frequently in marketing your goods and services. Also, in order to maintain a registered trademark, every 10 years you will need to file proof that you are still using the mark.
Intellectual Property theft is where a person knowingly copies a company’s logo or robs the company’s ideas or inventions and uses it without the company’s consent.
An example of IP theft is of famous brand Apple. In October 2017, an Apple engineer was fired for a video posted by his daughter of the then prototype iPhone X, employee-only QR codes, and a notes app with code names of unreleased Apple Products.
The engineer’s daughter posted a video of her experience accompanying dad to the office, and it included the officially banned phone.
The Bottom Line
No matter the size of your business, to maintain the smooth functioning of your business, start prioritizing the protection of your intellectual property and prevent it from copying or stealing or it can turn out to be a hindrance for your company and can hamper your growth.
Consult the professionals if needed and just keep in mind that –
Your idea can be The Next Big Thing and revolutionize the world, so why not put in some effort and follow the appropriate process to safeguard it first!