Intellectual property is defined by the World Intellectual Property Organization as a design, name, image, symbol, invention, literary or artistic work that can be used in commerce. A company updating a logo to a newer and fresher image, an author with a new manuscript, or a person with a great idea for a new product can all protect their ideas before they become reality.
Individuals or businesses who wish to protect intellectual property from theft or tampering can take several steps to do so. These include:
- Registering for a trademark or service mark protection for a logo, symbol or company name.
- Copywriting manuscripts, films, music or digital works with the U.S. Copyright Office.
- Applying for a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
There are many ways a company's trade secrets, ideas or other intellectual property can be compromised. For example, an unscrupulous employee could decide to steal information and pass it off as his or her own. Or, trade-specific ideas that are developed while a person is employed by the company may contractually belong to the company, but the individual who came up with the idea could disagree.
There are numerous other methods to protect this work in addition to registering, says Entrepreneur. These can include signing a non-disclosure agreement with new hires and, of course, only sharing company ideas and intellectual property with people who are qualified to know.
This blog is designed to provide general information and should not to be taken as legal advice.
Source: U.S. Small Business Administration, "Intellectual Property Law," accessed Aug. 26, 2014