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

Spring thaw

News
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Spring ThawBY JASON NORRIS | OB BLOGGER

The “polar vortex” of 2014 seems to have finally thawed and we believe this change in weather will bring more sunshine to the U.S. economy as well.


Read more...

Barrister bands

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
IMG 4691BY LINDA BAKER

An intellectual property attorney by day, 48-year-old Stoll Berne attorney Tim DeJong is a singer and guitarist by night.


Read more...

How to help your staff solve their own problems

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 21, 2014
03.21.14 thumb coxcoffeeTOM COX | OB BLOGGER

During a recent talk to HR Directors, I asked if they saw leaders trying to solve every problem, instead of delegating to and empowering staff. Every head nodded. Every single one.


Read more...

The solution to youth unemployment

News
Thursday, February 27, 2014
02.27.14 Thumbnail TeenworkBY ERIC FRUITS

Because they have little chance of working for someone else, today’s teens need to be entrepreneurs. But, first, we must teach our teens that entrepreneurship starts small.


Read more...

What I'm reading: Brad Smith & Travis Boersma

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Brad Smith, founder of Hot Pepper Studios, and Travis Boersma, president of Dutch Bros. Coffee, share their recent reads.


Read more...

Wheel man

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Les Schwab has put a premium on customer service since 1952, when legendary namesake Les Schwab founded the company with one store in Prineville. (Schwab died in 2007.) But if the corporate principles remain essentially the same, the world around this iconic Oregon business has changed dramatically.


Read more...

Buy the book

News
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
2 03.25.14 thumb bookshopBY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER

Oregon is home not only to many fine writers but also several accomplished small publishers.


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