Intellectual property (IP) is where thoughts and ideas meet the material world and is commonly defined as any work or invention that’s come about as the result of creativity. A strength to the business that owns it, IP is considered an asset in bankruptcy proceedings, can be sold or lost and needs to be protected by the company that owns the property.
“Intellectual property should be viewed as a tool for [business owners] to protect their business assets, to provide the tools to leverage those business assets [and] to protect market share,” said Seaton Curran, Howard & Howard. He added that IP could also be used, “to enter into new markets and leverage products in order to gain access to other technologies and really understand the protections of intellectual property law that can be used to their advantage,” explained Seaton Curran, Howard & Howard.
All businesses have intellectual property concerns, though not necessarily at the same level. For example, the owner of a dog grooming business who wants to trademark the perfect name has different concerns than the owner of a software design company whose copyrighted intellectual property is the entire value of the business.
In addition, trade secret misappropriation and copyright infringement issues can arise when employees leave a company. In other instances, employees may violate non-compete clauses or confidentiality by taking intellectual property, said Michael Rounds, Watson Rounds.
Businesses need to know what to do when customer information is hacked. It’s important to know how the business complies with authorities and notifies customers, and what safeguards are in place to protect the information, which is actually intellectual property. Clearly IP is a topic with a myriad of issues to consider.
“When we get involved with a business, whether small or large, that’s one of the first questions we have, from a trademark sense, said Michael Feder, Dickinson Wright. He asks clients, “What names are you using for your products? Have you authored anything, a book or certain types of instructions, things on your website you don’t want people to cut and paste and duplicate from a copyright perspective, photos you’ve put out there? Have you registered those with the copyright office?”
“I don’t think that people really understand the practical reach of these concepts, because they’re so abstract,” added Kelley Goldberg, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. “Once they figure out the practical implications of intellectual property they need to figure out, first, what intellectual property they own, second, how do they protect it and third, how to stop others from misusing or stealing it.”
Read the rest of Rachel’s article at nevadabusiness.com.