The intellectual property of your business may not be something that means a great deal to you now, but as you grow and become more successful, and as your ideas become more well-known, your IP is certainly something you will want to protect to stop others from ‘stealing’ your ideas and using them to make money. The sooner you can do this, the better, because it can stop it from happening altogether, and if it does happen then, you will have some recourse for help and legal backup. Here are some of the ways you can protect your intellectual property just in case the worst should happen.
- File A Patent
The first thing that will often come to mind when you think of ways to protect your intellectual property is filing a patent. There is a reason for this; it works. Filing a patent means that you are putting your ideas and designs in a safe place; experts will see them and grant the patent, and that means that everything is protected. It’s important to bear in mind that people might try to work around your patent and create something similar that isn’t breaking any rules, which is why it’s a good idea to have an expert such as the professionals at this company help you ensure that your patent is impossible to break.
- Keep Innovating
In sectors such as technology, there will always be some form of IP theft happening. Take a look around at all the gadgets and tools that are available, and you’ll notice that a lot of them look similar to others, and work in a comparable way. In this case, it can be extremely difficult to protect your intellectual property, but if you are constantly innovating and always staying more than one step ahead of your competition, it won’t matter if they take your ideas because you will already be about to release the next one. Making sure they can never catch up, and you’ll always be out in front in terms of clever thinking and new technology that people want to use.
- Keep Things Separate
This idea isn’t possible for smaller companies, perhaps, but for larger ones, or those that have offices all over the country or even the world, it is a useful idea to keep in mind. Ensure that no one person or team has the full design of what you are making. If everyone has access to everything, then there is more chance that there will be a leak, or that someone will be tempted to sell your designs to the highest bidder. By keeping all the parts separate, this cannot happen. By the time it is all together and working, you will be the first to launch, securing your IP. If you continue to innovate as mentioned above, you will do even better.
- Open Source
Letting your idea be open source may sound like the complete opposite of protecting your intellectual property, but it can actually help. By allowing other developers to use it in this way and add their own ideas, you can have a distinct competitive advantage. All you need to do is work on adding value to the initial idea (the part that remains proprietary) and you won’t have a problem. In fact, this move can really shock your competitors and make them take more notice of you, especially if they were going to use your ideas themselves. You will have effectively pulled the rug out from underneath them.
- Don’t Own Jointly
Joint ownership of intellectual property should be avoided wherever possible. It usually goes on to cause problems where one person wants to sell the idea and the other doesn’t. No one can get what they want and huge feuds and fallings out can occur. If you have an idea then it should be yours and yours alone. That way you can choose what you want to happen to it and whether you want to protect it or not.
- Exact Match Domains
There are very few successful companies that don’t have a website, and when you are buying yours you should think very carefully about the domain name. If your product already has a name that can’t be changed then it is vital that you purchase the website name that is an exact match for it. This is what people will be looking for when they are searching for you, and if they see something that matches exactly they will trust that it is you. Buying a much cheaper domain that doesn’t match exactly leaves your competitors with the chance to snatch the exact match name from you. People will go to their website instead of yours a lot of the time, and if they are selling a similar product you will lose a lot of business.
Speak to a lawyer regarding your non-disclosure agreements and ensure that they are watertight. A non-disclosure agreement should be signed by every member of staff and anyone who sees information pertaining to the product you are producing. The document should state that they cannot tell anyone about the product and nor can they use the ideas for their own gain. If you write one yourself then it could be that there are many flaws and you won’t be able to use the law if you find someone has breached the contract. This is why it is a good idea to have a professional draw up the contract for you.
- Don’t Tell Anyone
Finally, one of the easiest ways to keep your intellectual property safe is not to tell anyone about it. By staying quiet and working on it alone (or by having those who are helping you sign a non-disclosure agreement), you can be more confident in the fact that your ideas will stay with you and you alone. Although you may feel this is a somewhat risky strategy, it can work perfectly well as long as you are able to keep your ideas to yourself.