Whether your business is retail, service, industrial, or otherwise, its logos, names, products, customers, and business practices may be worth protecting from competitors and former employees. Whether you have a successful business or are just starting out, every business needs to determine what its intellectual property is and whether it is valuable enough to protect.
There are four basic kinds of intellectual property which a business can protect: trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and patents. Intellectual property can be one of a business’s most valuable assets, and should be protected ferociously. Think of the formula for Coke, the “11 herbs and spices” of KFC, or even the name of your business. How would you feel if a company opened up across the street from you with a confusingly similar name? Could you stop them?
Trademarks may protect names, logos, symbols, or other marks used to identify a business, product, or service. A business that owns a trademark may prevent anyone else from attempting to copy, reproduce, or impermissibly use the trademark in the United States. Copyrights and patents protect original artistic works or unique processes, devices, and machines for a set period of time. Trade secrets protect business know-how and practices that give the business advantage over competitors. Examples of trade secrets may be customer lists and identities, business manuals, and secret manufacturing recipes or processes.
Protecting intellectual property is not automatic, and requires your business to take action for legal protection. These steps might include creating confidentiality and non-compete agreements, filing for federal trademark, copyright, or patent protection, or monitoring and enforcing your intellectual property rights against others. To evaluate what intellectual property your business may need to protect, and to get assistance in protecting your business’ intellectual property, please contact the business attorneys at Shinners & Cook, P.C.