Intellectual property (IP), while being intangible (in the context of not being physical), is precious since it grants the inventor some privileges, such as the exclusive right to benefit from the IP and the right to exclude others from using it. There are four main types of intellectual property.
The goal is to secure the most valuable asset that an organization has to be utilized to create revenue. The protection of IP rights is more extensive, covering aspects beyond invention, names, logos, crafts, and artists.
It is a form of monopoly that the government grants to an individual or a business entity to prevent others from creating, using, or selling your innovation, even if the infringement is unintentional. It is not possible to patent scientific principles or pure mathematical techniques. The non-obviousness test is: given the prior art at the time of the invention, would a typical engineer be able to:
1) identify the problem and 2) address it using the invention.
You have to be the “first to file.” Then, within a year of the sale, offer for sale, public disclosure, or public usage. A written description of the claims of the invention must be included in your patent application. Typically, patent protection lasts for 20 years.
Trademark is a type of intellectual property that protects your business and grants one the right to prevent third parties from adopting similar logos. Your trademark is protected for as long as you utilize it. The more one uses the mark, the more secure they are.
Trademark registration is voluntary, but it comes with many benefits if it is authorized. Trademarks are used to identify the origin of commodities.
A trademark can be obtained for a product design or shape that has been unique in the marketplace (for example, the form of the original Coca-Cola® bottle-US Trademark Registration No. 0696147). In addition, you can utilize the standard law notice until you are accepted as a registered trademark by adding marks that describe the origin of goods sold. Registered trademarks have a ten-year lifespan, after which they are renewed.
As a type of intellectual property a copyright is a legal term that refers to the legal protection of authorial works such as songs, novels, movies, and photographs. You have the right to prevent others from copying, distributing, or making derivatives of your work if you have copyright. It safeguards “expressions” of ideas but not the fundamental concepts. (Copyright prevents people from using one’s software without permission if their copyright relates to software).
Copyright protection is virtually indestructible. Inventors of games frequently employ copyrights. Patents may protect a game’s functionality, whereas copyrights may protect the look of the game’s board and instructions. Copyrights can be registered with the United States Copyright Office and are valid for the author’s lifetime and an additional 70 years.
Copyrighted material, such as that used in packaging design, can be trademarked and registered. Registration is optional; however, it is essential to file a lawsuit for infringement. Copyrights provide you the right to reproduce literary and artistic works. Copyrights can be used to protect software code and programs, images, theatrical productions, and even marine hull designs, as well as your family movies.
Copyrighting your invention’s different elements is common; hence one should consider their product development stages to safeguard their assets. For example, an individual can copyright their product packaging, manuals, or the source code for a computer program during the software development process. Copyright has a lifetime duration which means the costs of copyrighting are incurred once by the author. Even though copyright is optional, it is a mandatory requirement in lawsuits related to authorial works.
A trade secret is a type of intellectual property where information is kept hidden in an enterprise to maintain a competitive edge. It refers to information not revealed in a patent application or the final awarded patent document.
A trade secret is merely that information you believe can be kept secret for a long time—for example, the Coca-Cola® formula or the recipe. Anyone may practice or utilize what has been disclosed after the patent period has expired.
There is no way to go back and protect trade secrets with patents if they become public knowledge. Intellectual property rights are no longer protected. If you have any questions regarding the confidentiality of a trade secret, be cautious and patent the subject matter. Manufacturing secrets are frequently exploited as trade secrets.
It’s critical to ensure that only the workers and licensees know to access the trade secrets. Employee confidentiality programs should be in place, and licensees should adhere to rigorous confidentiality agreements.
Why Startups should protect their Intellectual Property
Intellectual property is a valuable business asset that must be safeguarded to enhance successful business performance. Unfortunately, many startups have a lax attitude toward protecting their intellectual property rights; this is frequently due to their conviction that “ideas abound; execution is all that counts.”
The problem with this mentality is that delaying the protection of a startup’s any type of intellectual property can cause severe and often permanent harm to the company, both legally and financially. IP is essential, which is why Google, Apple, and other tech giants spend billions of dollars suing to protect their intellectual property.
A tech startup’s most important asset is usually its intellectual property. The goods and services it brings to the market will help it gain market share and revenue, but neither will be safe unless the business can deter other businesses from gaining market share and revenue.
A combination of IP rights will cover most goods and services. Patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets, for example, can also be used to protect computer software. For example, patents are used to cover the features of Apple’s iPhones and other devices, and copyright is used to protect the actual code of its macOS and iOS operating systems.
In addition, the Apple name and logo are protected under trademark law. A startup must protect its IP rights since it represents its present and future assets. The type of IP in question will largely determine the specific measures required to secure IP rights. For example, startups often use non-Disclosure Agreements to ensure that employees or third parties do not misuse proprietary knowledge about their inventions. It’s also essential to start the process of registering trademarks and patents.
How to Protect Your Startup IP Rights
Even if you take the above measures to define your IP rights, including registration, other companies can still infringe on them. In such cases, it will be critical to act quickly to get them to stop and recover damages for any losses they may have incurred and the act of violating your rights.
IP protection is the term for this operation, ranging from easy to complex. The value of protecting intellectual property rights cannot be overstated. A startup is unlikely to succeed unless it has complete control of its intellectual property. If not addressed early on, some of the more common mistakes startups make, such as failing to obtain an IP address, can be extremely difficult to correct.
As previously mentioned, registration is often linked to the timeliness, and failure to reregister will result in a penalty. Therefore, every business startup should consider IP rights protection integral to its success. The protection of IP rights enables a firm to increase its revenue and growth.