Often times “intellectual property” is among the last things that an early stage company thinks about, placing behind concerns about sales, marketing, revenue, growing the customer base, etc. However,intellectual property (IP) is among the most important and valuable business assets a company owns and protecting it should be one of top concerns for a young company.
The four primary categories of IP – trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and patents – are often mistaken for one another. Ally Law member firm Varnum provides succinct definitions of these important concepts:
- A trademark or “brand” is anything that helps to identify and distinguish the products or services of one company from another company, such as a name, logo, slogan or tagline.
- Copyrights protect many different works of authorship, such as written works and artwork as well as computer software.
- Patents are exclusive rights granted for an invention or innovation, which grants the patent owner exclusive rights to use or license to another an invention or design.
- A trade secret is any highly confidential information that has great value to a company – it can provide a business with a great advantage over its competitors.
As innovation and technology are evolving at an accelerated pace, and competition among all companies, including tech startups, is as fierce as ever, intellectual property (and the protection and enforcement of it) is critically important to the sustainability and success of your business. Perhaps think of IP protection as you do about your insurance: For a relatively small amount of money, you can protect your company against a possible catastrophe – the loss of your name, logo, technology, and other valuable IP assets to a competitor in the marketplace.
Just as it is not prudent to operate without some type insurance for you and your business, it is imprudent to not take reasonable measures to protect your intellectual property. Protecting your IP should be an essential component of your business plan and budget. See your Ally Law member firm and strategize with their IP professionals on how to protect your IP in the countries in which you do business. For more information about Ally Law member firm services and outstanding lawyers, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.