Protecting your intellectual property might not be the first thought you have when you set yourself up in business. In your eagerness to get going, you might overlook this important aspect of running a business. When you have spent so much time developing your ideas or your branding, however, it can be devastating to find out that someone else has found out what you are doing and is trying to make use of it too. Protecting your business, therefore, needs to happen from the very beginning and with our tips, it should be easy enough for you to do.
1. Know the law
When figuring out how to protect your intellectual property it is important that you know the law. If you are confident in what can and can’t be done in regard to using someone else’s ideas or branding, you are much more likely to be able to convince a competitor if they overstep the mark. Understanding the law makes you instantly more authoritative. Make sure you do your research and understand your rights, certainly before entering into a discussion with a competitor.
2. Record the intellectual property in some concrete way
When you develop plans or branding ideas be sure to record what you have come up in some way that could serve as evidence if the worst happens. If you had to go to court, for instance, to try and prove that you developed an idea first, it would certainly help if you had documents that proved this. Take a look at our post guiding you through writing a business plan. Documenting your ideas in such a way could help you prove your case.
3. Actively protect your rights
It can be a good idea to really work at protecting your rights from the outset. One of the most common mistakes that new business owners make is to not apply for a trademark to protect their property. This just leaves them wide open to those looking to capitalise by merely copying what they do further down the line. Protect yourself by taking positive action to help maintain your rights.
4. Client Contracts
In order to fully protect yourself, you might need to take a look at your client contracts. These are the people that will have full access to who you are as a brand and what you can do, including any ideas that you may have the future. You need to be sure that you have something ironclad in their contracts that prevents them from using the knowledge that they have about your company against you.
5. Set a Sharing Policy (and abide by others’ policies)
One of the biggest leaks of information within your company might well be your employees. For this reason, it is important to build a sharing policy into your contract of employment. You need to prevent employees from talking about your plans for the future and giving away vital information to competitors. Of course, you should also respect the privacy of your competitors in this regard. Don’t think it’s acceptable to approach their employees to try and get information.