Counterfeit products, patent theft, rogue websites, social media impersonation, and copyright piracy… These are just a few examples of brand abuse that can completely derail your business.
Thanks to advances in technology, it is now easier than ever for scam artists to copy your business’s intellectual property and use it to mislead customers. This can result in irreparable damage to your brand, lost profits, and even bankruptcy.
I’m Neil Fridman with the Fridman Law Firm. Today, I want to help you understand what you can do right now to protect your business from brand abuse, and to ensure that your intellectual property is safe from online criminals.
Protecting your intellectual property is a complicated topic. But for now we will focus on the basics of copyright protection, trademark protection and patent protection.
For the majority of businesses, a copyright should be used to protect intellectual property, such as software code and other important proprietary company documents. A copyright is filed with the U.S. Copyright Office and lasts for the duration of the author’s life. This guarantees that neither a competitor nor someone intending to harm your business for any reason can duplicate your company’s intellectual property.
Every business is different, and while the process of filing a copyright is intricate, it is important to know which pieces of intellectual property should be copyrighted in order to protect the future of your business.
Copyrights are often confused with trademarks. While a copyright protects written works, trademarks are used to protect the names of your business, your products, and your services. Coke, Nike, Apple, and Google, you know these companies by name, but you also know them by their trademark logos and slogans.
What would happen if Nike hadn’t trademarked “Just do it” in the late 1980s, or if every soda company could use the famous word “Coke”? There would be mass confusion in the marketplace and no business would be able to protect its original ideas. This is why it is so important that you trademark your company’s logo, name, and even your slogan if you have one.
Why you should register your trademark or copyright early
Once your business has become successful, it is often too late. Your competition will see what you’re doing and will look to copy as much of it as they can. Registering for a U.S. trademark through the United States Patent and Trademark Office, in addition to global trademark registration, will protect your brand from copycats.
Protecting your inventions
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is also the place where you can verify that your invention is an original idea. Taking the time to perform a global or U.S. patent search in order to make sure your invention is original is the first step of securing some of the most important intellectual property your business has.
Once you have confirmed that your concept is original, applying for and then prosecuting your patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office ensures that your company’s proprietary products and services are protected from the competition.
What you should do
Applying for and obtaining a patent is complex work, but it’s key when you want to protect what you’ve created and worked so hard to build in your business. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been in the business for 20 years or you’re looking to get started tomorrow. It’s never too early or too late to begin protecting your company’s intellectual property.