Intellectual property laws have been around for centuries. These laws exist to protect people who have come up with original innovations, inventions and creative works from having their originality and imagination used for the financial gain of others. But, protecting your IP is not a passive act. If you truly want to keep control over your original innovations follow the guidelines below.
Seek the Help of a Professional
Obtaining IP status for an invention or innovation is not necessarily as simple and straightforward as it may seem. In fact, obtaining IP is full of small details that cannot be overlooked. Something as simple as a patent application needs to be written in a certain way and with specific wording to have the best chance of being approved. Working with an experienced IP attorney can help to ensure that all of your information is prepared properly and ready to submission to the patent office.
Know Your Rights
One of the best ways you can protect your original ideas is to know what your rights are in relation to them. The overall concept of IP can be divided into four subsections based on the what needs protection.
- Patents protect inventions
- Registered designs protect the appearance of products
- Trademarks protect brands
- Copyrights protect ideas
It is important to know which type of protection your idea needs and what you need to do to get that protection.
Decide What you are Going to do With Your IP
Obtaining IP status is not free. So, before you spend money to protect your ideas, decide what you are going to do with your invention and why you want to prevent other people from using your ideas. Having an IP is only useful if you are willing to enforce it. So, make sure you seek it judiciously, and only on ideas that are going to hurt you financially if they get into the hands of competitors.
Protect Your IP Early
When you want to protect your IP, do so as early as possible. As soon as you establish something that needs to be protected, start taking steps to protect it. It can take a bit of time to get patents, copyrights and trademarks, so the earlier you start the groundwork, the quicker you can get the entire process done.
Search Your State’s Registries
Take the time to research your state’s registries for trademarks and other forms of IP. Some states will allow you to do the search online but others will require you to call in a request for their staff to conduct a search on your behalf. Either way, a thorough search will let you know if your idea has any competition of which you need to be aware. Keep in mind, similar ideas that were created before yours may have certain rights, even if they do not have IP status.
Understand That the World of IP is Large and Controversial
The world of IP is immense. It also has a huge impact on international relations and trade. It is often fraught with political complications, so it can also be controversial. In fact, the United Nations has an entire agency dedicated to the protection of IP, so it reaches to other developed and developing countries as well.
Keep Your Idea Secret Until you File a Patent Application
When you come up with a new idea, it’s natural to want to share it with the people closest to you — and anyone else who will listen. Stay strong and keep your idea quiet until you have filed your patent application. The fewer people you tell about it, the less likely it will be that someone takes your idea and uses it as their own. Always err on the side of caution; even if you share your idea under the protection of a confidentiality agreement, it will not necessarily stop someone from sharing that information anyway.
Make Sure You Own Your IP in a way That Allows for Development
When you own an idea, there is always a possibility that after a while, you discover a way to tweak it and make it better. If your IP is designed in a way that does not allow for the development of the idea, then you will be stuck with the original incarnation of it. However, if your IP allows for development, you can make changes and improvements to make the final product better.
If you have questions about protecting your intellectual property, contact us today.