It is essential for a business to take steps to protect its intellectual property. A business’ intellectual property could consist of marketing strategies, efficient processes, ingredients, the development of one-of-a-kind items, or any other aspect of a company’s business that is a source of income for the company and/or makes it unique as compared to its competitors. Trade secrets, designs, inventions and authors’ original works are all considered to be intellectual property; however, the way in which intellectual property is protected is based on the category the property falls into.
An author’s original work, such as musical, dramatic, and literary works; visual and audio recordings; software, and photographs enjoy copyright protection. Once an original work is created, the work has certain copyright protections, even if the creator has not filed for copyright protection through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Many times creators of work will use the copyright symbol to advise the world they intend to assert copyright protection in that particular work; however many times the authors do not use these symbols appropriately. Additionally, if a creator is serious about asserting his/her copyright protections against infringement, he/she needs to speak with a knowledgeable attorney who can walk them through the process of securing and enforcing their copyright protections.
Many times a business’ brand, goodwill, or reputation is its biggest asset but has the least protection. Businesses carry insurance for their buildings, equipment, and products, and they have their employees enter into confidentiality and non-compete agreements, but how many have taken steps to ensure their brand from infringement? If another company pops up using your business’ name and/or logo in the hopes of capitalizing on your business’ success, what can you do about it? The answer – it depends on whether or not your business enjoys any trademark protections. Applicable laws protect consumers from being confused or deceived if another business attempts to use a name that is the same as, or similar to, one of your products or business; however, unless your business has applied for trademark protection, you may have a hard time proving your business owns the trademark, and you may be limited in the number of damages you can recover from the infringing business.
Additionally, before you start a business, you need to be sure that the name and/or logo that you are selecting does not infringe on another business’ trademark. An experienced attorney can help you investigate whether the business name or logo could be deemed an infringement on that owned by another business.