How can I protect my idea?!
Say you developed this amazing new and innovative product? Or came up with a unique business name? Developed a new formula? Wrote this amazing piece of work? You’ve spent countless hours, time, energy and money into your product, design, art work, to have someone copy your work or steal would be devastating. How can you prevent this from happening? Several ways.
The first way you can protect your idea depends on what category of intellectual property (IP) it falls into. There are basically four: (1) Patents; (2) Trademarks; (3) Copyrights; and (4) Trade Secrets. First, what exactly are these forms of IP? Here’s a little bit about each one:
Patents: A patent is a grant of rights by the the government to an inventor who has created an invention.
Trademarks: A trademark is a word, name, symbol, or device, used to identify the source of goods.
Copyrights: A copyright is any original work of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression.
Trade Secrets: A trade secret is any formula, pattern, device or compilation or information which is used in one’s business and gives you an advantage over the competition.
Now that you have an idea of the different kinds of IP out there, how can you use them to protect your idea? Here’s a chart that summarizes how you can utilize these various forms of IP:
There are also some other ways you can protect your precious IP -- mainly contractual. You can do this through things such as Licensing Agreements, Franchise Agreements, Non-Disclosure Agreements and/or Confidentiality Agreements. Each of these agreements (or contracts) serve a very specific purpose and protect very specific individual rights.
Furthermore, what is unique about these contracts, are that you essentially can create the level of protection that is best for you, your business, and your creation. Every field is different, and thus, the concerns related to how to protect them can vary. But that’s where having an excellent business and intellectual property attorney comes in!
If you have any questions, or are looking to protect your idea, please contact me, Christina A. Simpson, Esq.
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