How Intellectual Property Law Impacts Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)
The intellectual property market is growing in leaps and bounds. Smart SMEs are filing trademark, patent, and copyright applications on a regular basis. When your ideas are not legally protected, they can be easily taken by another person or business. A patent and trademark attorney can advise you when it makes sense to protect your intellectual property and guide you through the process to secure and protect your intellectual property.
If someone copies your ideas, it can be very difficult or impossible to prove ownership and take legal steps to stop them from using your ideas for their monetary gain. That is why it is important to have an attorney to assist you to secure and protect your intellectual property.
Protecting Your SME’s Intellectual Property Rights
Intellectual property law helps you to secure and protect your intellectual property. Intellectual property includes ideas, creations, inventions and discoveries of all sorts. Your intellectual property can have as much or more value than your business’s physical assets. You should protect your intellectual property with the same diligence that you employ to protect the physical assets of your business. An intellectual property attorney can help you protect your intellectual property assets and to prevent the unauthorized use of your ideas and your hard work.
What Can Happen to Your Intellectual Property?
Large businesses maintain strict control over their intellectual property portfolios, but SMEs are usually not as proactive or systematic in their efforts. Neglecting to put intellectual property protections in place for your business can result in serious consequences for your business. While legal fees can be expensive, the loss of your intellectual property can be catastrophic.
It is very important to pursue and spend money on growth-related opportunities and to deliver quality goods and/or services to your customers, but it is also important to protect your hard work and your intellectual property. There are a number of steps you can take to protect your intellectual property in a smart and cost-efficient manner.
What Are Trademarks?
Trademarks are the most common way that businesses protect their business name, business slogan their product names. Businesses use trademarks to distinguish their goods and services from those of other businesses. Trademarks include business names, product names, slogans, mottos, logos, sounds and shapes. Trademarks consist of a unique and singular mark, a non-descriptive word, or even a term. Registered trademarks last for 10 years and protect your wares from infringement throughout that period of time. Trademarks may be renewed for additional periods of time if they are still in use.
Trademarks can be sold or licensed to other businesses. In that way, they can create additional revenue if a third party wants to license your trademark to sell your goods or their goods under your trademark. A Trademark strengthens your brand and protects your reputation.
Before you can get a trademark, you will have to ensure that the trademark you want is not already registered to someone else. You must also select the correct trademark class in which to register your trademark. Having a trademark is essential to protect your business and to build a reputable brand.
What Is a Patent?
A Patent demonstrates that your business has developed and owns the rights to certain equipment, products, or services. Patented items can include products, equipment and other inventions. The items must be made or used, and they must be new and innovative. Patents make your company more valuable by giving you a distinct advantage over the competition. With a Patent, you must remember that it is only valid for twenty years and by filing a patent you are basically telling the world how to make your product and/or equipment. This is why some businesses do not file a patent, but decide to keep their product or equipment a trade secret. One of the most famous trade secrets is the recipe for Coca Cola.
What Are Geographical Considerations for Patents and Trademarks?
The intellectual property protections granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are not global. They are only valid within the U.S. That being said, you can obtain patent and trademark protection in other countries if that is required to protect your intellectual property. Does it make sense to file a patent or a trademark? What protection will a trademark or patent give me and what will the cost be to obtain this protection? One always needs to weigh the cost and benefit of registering a trademark or a patent. It is important to consult an attorney to make this determination.
What is a Copyright?
A copyright is an easy way to protect certain types of work. With a copyright, you get two distinct rights. One is the right to use the work for commercial purposes. That includes the right to distribute, adapt, reproduce, license, lend, sell, or perform work. The other right is the moral right to protect non-commercial interest in the work. Here are a few examples of works that are protected by copyright:
- Dramatic productions
- Literary works
- Musical works
- Film and television recordings
- Sound and music recordings
- Online databases
- Internet content
Copyrighted works must be original and expressed in one medium. The originator of the work must be identifiable. The common-law copyright can last for up to 70 years, and it arises automatically. You can also file for a copyright, that will give you some additional rights. A copyright can assist you in your efforts to protect your intellectual property.
Here to Help Mercer Island & Seattle Washington SME’s
If you are a Small Medium Enterprise (SMEs) without intellectual property protections in place, Peterson Law, PLLC is here to help. You can reach Peterson Law, PLLC at 206.498.3354 or at www.brynpetersonlaw.com.