There are four ways to protect your creations:
Intellectual property refers to copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Every new business should have a unique quality. In many cases, the unique business proposition is simply bringing an existing product to a new market, in which case the party who invented the product or service has most likely protected the product or service. If they have not, you as an agent or franchisee can pursue registration to protect your interest. Uniqueness in other situations can be a newly invented product or service. Also, a unique name or slogan may have significant marketing benefits. In these cases, individuals and businesses can protect their interests in intellectual properties by registering them with the Federal government.
A copyright protects a written work. A writer automatically protects a work by indicating the copyright date on the work. However, to fully protect a work (including the ability to legally collect damages for infringement), it should be registered with the Federal government. The term of a copyright is the life of the writer plus 70 years.
A registered patent protects a product or service. It prevents others from producing the product or service for 20 years. It is important to note that, because the patent process can take several months, the Federal government process includes a provisional patent application that provides protection and can extend the patent process term. A provisional patent can offer protection to a small business for 12 months while the inventor or entrepreneur determines the economic feasibility of a full application.
A trademark protects a name, slogan, word, symbol, logo, design, color, or sound or the combination of these items. A servicemark is similar to trademark, but protects the name of a service rather than a business or product. A business can preserve trade and service marks as long as they use the registered goods or services and make the required periodic government filings.
New business owners that plan to protect an intellectual property should become familiar with the rules and regulations of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This government agency processes all U.S. patents and trademarks. Also, the USPTO provides information regarding registration and protection of intellectual properties on an international level. Although foreign countries have their own intellectual property laws, treaties exist that assist businesses to register for international protection.
Business owners must maintain the confidentiality of their invention or other intellectual property until they complete registration.This is accomplished with non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements with investors, suppliers and others that come into contact with the intellectual property or related information. A new business owner typically utilizes the services of an attorney in intellectual property matters due to the legal complexities with registration and protection of confidential information.
is a graduate of London Metropolitan University with a bachelor's degree in Law and also holds an MBA in Marketing from Northeastern University in Boston. Having spent his early career in the telecom business, Shaun moved into the online marketing arena as Director of Marketing for what is now Careerbuilder.com before co-founding an online venture that distributed job seeker resumes to recruiters. Shaun is currently Director of Marketing for the Tarkenton Companies, which includes StarterSuccess.com