Home Archives March 2007 Steps to protect your intellectual property

Steps to protect your intellectual property

| Print |  Email
Thursday, March 01, 2007

The area known as intellectual property, or IP, is becoming increasingly important for small business. IP refers to all of the intangible assets that a business develops that are products of the mind, rather than products of machinery. Just as you can own tangible property, you can also own intellectual property if you take proper steps to establish and protect that ownership.

But while patents and other intellectual property are vital to smaller businesses, those businesses often lack resources for managing IP issues. Poorly written patent applications submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have created a backlog of historic proportions. And IP experts at IBM, for example, say the government has been approving applications for things that are overly broad, obvious and old-hat in a rush to clear the logjam. Here are some things small businesses can do to establish, protect and cash in on IP assets:


DEVISE AN IP STRATEGY. Create a strategy that leverages the entire spectrum of techniques, including patenting, designating ideas as trade secrets, and trademark and copyright law.

EXECUTE PROPER AGREEMENTS WITH FREELANCERS. If your business uses independent contractors to help develop IP assets, it is vital that all written contractor agreements specifically establish your full ownership of any developed IP. Beware of using independent contractors who are actually employees at large technology companies (a common practice). They might have conflicting employment agreements that say any IP they develop belongs to their big company employer.

GET UP TO SPEED ON IP ISSUES. A good place for a primer is the FAQ section at the USPTO (www.uspto.gov). Self-help legal publisher Nolo (www.nolo.com) has several books on the process.

SHOP YOUR IP VIA LICENSING AGREEMENTS. Several websites offer new and affordable ways for small businesses and inventors to license or sell IP. Check out IPmarket.com, NewIdeaTrade.com and IPauctions.com where you can list your IP assets for sale.

PROTECT YOUR WEBSITE IP, TOO. In an effort to attract and service customers, small businesses sometimes post intellectual property on websites. Be aware that whatever you place online can be easily pilfered by almost anyone. At a minimum, include a “terms of use” section on your site that spells out your intellectual property ownership.

LOOK BEYOND BORDERS. The Internet has made intellectual property rights a global pursuit. Small businesses are especially vulnerable to overseas theft of IP assets. The World Intellectual Property Association (www.wipo.int) has an excellent guide to international IP rights for small business.

GET GOOD IP LEGAL ADVICE. There’s no substitute for legal advice. The USPTO (www.uspto.gov) keeps a list of active IP attorneys. Or you can quickly search for IP attorneys in your area at Findlaw.com.

— Daniel Kehrer, editor,www.work.com
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

The Diaspora

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LEE VAN DER VOO

Former newspaper journalists move into brand journalism.


Read more...

Managing family assets: The importance of planning ahead

News
Friday, August 22, 2014
Unknown-1BY CLIFF HOCKLEY |  OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

When business intersects with family, a host of  situations can arise. Without a clear vision and careful planning, hard-earned investments can become stressful burdens.


Read more...

Fast Food Slows Down

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

The ubiquitous fast-food restaurant may be on the decline.


Read more...

Gender Code

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD

Janice Levenhagen-Seeley reprograms tech.


Read more...

Fork & Bottle

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014

National media can’t get enough of Oregon’s pinot noir, artisan-food purveyors and lively, independent film scene.


Read more...

Portland rises

News
Monday, August 18, 2014

IMG 2551Portland is in the middle of another construction boom, with residential and office projects springing up downtown, in the Pearl and Old Town. OB Web Editor Jessica Ridgway documents the new wave.


Read more...

A Recipe for Success

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Two businesswomen, two iconic food brands and one food-obsessed city. We thought this sounded like a recipe for good conversation. So in late August, Oregon Business sat down with Wendy Collie, CEO of New Seasons Market, and Kim Malek, owner of Salt & Straw, to discuss their rapidly expanding businesses and Oregon’s trendsetting food scene.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS