This is part 2 of a 7 part series highlighting common legal missteps of small businesses.
Mistake #2: Failing to protect intellectual property.
Intellectual property can be one of the most important components of a company. Intellectual property includes inventions, trade secrets, designs and original works of authorship. Failing to protect these valuable business assets can negatively impact your business operations. Furthermore, should you want to engage in fundraising (or even eventually sell your business) failure to protect your intellectual property will negatively impact these transactions.
There are numerous avenues through which you can protect your intellectual property including patents, copyrights and trademarks.
A patent is a right granted to the inventor to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention. A patent will only be granted if a product or a process is unique, useful, and non-obvious. Patent ownership gives a business the exclusive right to exploit that product or process.
A copyright provides protection to authors of original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, artistic, musical, software, and certain other intellectual works. Copyright protection is not tied to a filing, it begins as soon as the work is fixed in a copy or record for the first time. The filing of a copyright, however, is required prior bringing a suit for infringement.
A trademark or service mark protects the name of a product or service. This protection seeks to prevent confusion in the marketplace, by giving the trademark owner the exclusive right to use a name within a particular industry. As trademarks are often an overlooked area, I encourage you to conduct a trademark search prior to branding a company or product.
Moisan Legal P.C. is a boutique law firm focusing on representing entrepreneurs and businesses in a variety of legal issues. Matthew J. Moisan can be reached at 646.741.5222.