Having an understanding of intellectual property laws is important for any growing business. Intellectual property allows business owners to protect products such as technology they’ve invented and any other creative works. There are three basic types of intellectual property, and they include copyright, trademark, and patent.
Copyrights protect original works such as words and images, and most commonly include things like books, speeches, photos, drawings, paintings, and musical recordings. The creator is the owner of the copyright and has the power to determine how the work is used and reproduced. A copyright is automatically assumed the moment the work is created. They are important to business owners when promoting a product. All of your promotional materials including your website will fall under copyright laws.
Trademarks are used for specific words, signs, symbols or graphics. A trademark may be your business’s logo or slogan and these set your business apart from the others. Businesses should trademark their company’s name because it gives them exclusive rights to use it nationwide and to stop any copy or look-alike brands. You can learn how to trademark your brand at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Getting Started with Trademarks.
Patents protect inventions such as a new process, machine, chemical formula, or article of manufacture. To patent your invention it must be new and non-obvious to someone working in that field. To obtain a patent, an application must be sent to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Patents last for about 20 years.
Every Business Owns Some Form of Intellectual Property
No matter the size of your business, it is important to identify what assets qualify as intellectual property. This should be established early in your business’s lifetime. Whether it’s your company’s brand, name, website or product, these things add value to your business. Protecting these things will ensure someone else doesn’t have a similar idea.