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Intellectual Property For Small Businesses, How To Protect Yourself On A Budget

It takes a great deal of money and resources to start a business. Many small business owners often hit the ground running and before they know it their one man shop has 10 employees! This is all great, but with every business there needs to be a level of protection in place. Depending on the type of business you own/run, there are many factors that become involved when trying to keep your business alive, the last thing you need to worry about is someone coming in and taking it all away from you.

Wolf Greenfield (WG) put together a great seminar a few weeks ago. They discussed various forms of IP and how business owners, small and large, can and need to start protecting their assets. Of course they talked about utility and design patents, but for many business owners at CI Works, those don’t apply. The topics of trademarks, trade secrets, copyright and NDA’s, did however, spark some attention.

WG explained that a trade secret is anything you want to keep confidential; your customer lists, recipes, and data. An example of this is Coca Cola’s recipe which remains a trade secret rather than a patent to this day. This means that if someone had reverse engineered it and figured out the recipe they could rebrand the product as their own. Coca Cola has implemented countless procedures and protocols to keep their secret from leaking. A trademark is your brand’s identity, it can be a symbol, logo, name or saying. An example of this is the Nike swoosh, in one look you know exactly which brand it is. A Copyright is an original work of authorship, for example graphics, music, websites, marketing materials, etc. Once you receive a trademark or copyright, start using it! Its most companies’ largest asset.

Not only are these options far less expensive than utility and design patents, they’re all easier to obtain. If you’re not sure what type of protection you need to consider or where to start, contact an IP attorney today. They’ll let you know what you need to protect, how to do it, and what steps you’ll need to continue to follow up on so your business can continue to thrive.

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