You probably put a lot of time — and money — into your company’s intellectual property, or IP. Once you have created IP, which can include everything from original patterns and pieces of art to the way you make your product or service, it’s important to protect it. IP even goes beyond your direct product or service — it also includes things that you create, such as logos and other marketing materials, and internal information that should remain solely with your business. All of these can be protected by a number of laws, such as patent, copyright, trade secret and trademark laws.
The success of your business depends on your ability to distinguish it from others. If your IP is stolen, keeping your unique individuality will be hard to do. There are a variety of strategies that are essential to protecting your intellectual property, so it’s important to look at the ones that make the most for your business.
10 Tips for Protecting Your IP:
1. Protect your intellectual property legally.
Start by identifying which products and aspects of your business can be protected. In this step, it’s a good idea to work with a legal professional to register patents, copyright and trademarks. This will assure that you can take legal action if something were to happen. You should file your patents as soon as possible to assure your place in line, since patents can take more than five years to be issued.
2. Choose patents carefully.
Not every great idea will be patentable. Note the patentable features are of your idea and be aware of any other similar work. Not only do you want to patent ideas that you think are important, you should also consider what may be important to other individuals and companies. Take these things into consideration when deciding what you should patent.
3. Create policies for employees.
Create a policy for your intellectual property that includes your patents, trademarks, designs, copyrights and domain names. Your employees should understand the IP policies of your company so they don’t violate them.
4. Form nondisclosure agreements.
Invest in well-written nondisclosure agreements to protect your intellectual property. These agreements should be written for your employees, sales contracts, licenses and client agreements. They will help protect your intellectual property right from the start of any of these relationships.
5. Make sure your employees choose passwords carefully.
You should have and enforce a strong password policy. Others should not be able to guess or hack your system. Request that employees use strong passwords that are difficult to guess and do not contain personal information.
6. Don’t let employees leave important documents out or open.
If you implement a clear desk screen policy, you’ll reduce the risk of sensitive documents falling into the wrong hands. You don’t want important documents to be accessed by those who should not have them. Encourage employees to clear their desks of documents and lock their computers every time they leave their desks.
7. Restrict employee access to certain files and documents.
Only give the minimum access that is required for each employee to be able to do his or her job. Restricting access to confidential files will keep them safer. Permissions should be dependent on the employee’s role and files that are only necessary to complete his or her work.
8. Make sure to cut this access and change passwords when an employee leaves.
When someone leaves your organization, make sure to disable access to sensitive information. If there are certain websites that they were able to log in to, make sure that these passwords are changed as well to prevent former employees from being able to log into these accounts after they have left.
9. Have a data loss prevention solution.
Put a data loss prevention solution in place. Users should not be able to send important and confidential data to external sources. It’s also a good idea to implement a system that tracks any prohibited data movement. This will allow you to address this breech with your employee that committed the violation and solve the problem. Employees should be aware of these restrictions when being hired.
10. Prosecute the intellectual property thieves.
If your intellectual property is stolen, prosecute the thieves. It is your right to pursue the offenders. Identify any breaches and protect your patents and trademarks.
If you want to protect your online business, you need to protect your intellectual property, as well. Keep your valuable documents and details protected, be mindful of who is using what information and make the security of your company’s one-of-a-kind products and services a priority, and you will be more successful as a whole.