Online entrepreneurs, including bloggers, need to understand copyright laws, trademark issues and other intellectual property rights for running their business smoothly and protecting their business.
Copyrights, trade secrets, and other intellectual property rights have never been more at risk. Thanks to constant digital interconnectivity, it’s easy for both consumers and competitors to access your business ideas and try to make them their own. Marketing is important for bringing attention to your brand, but it can also bring spies after your content. If you don’t have the right protection, they can succeed in stealing your intellectual property.
What Is Intellectual Property (IP)?
Intellectual property is a loose term for intangible assets (ideas and processes) that you want to protect from outside use. It’s what sets one company apart from another and gives them a competitive advantage.
IP can sometimes be difficult to define. It’s not always clear who came up with the idea first, and without legal action to protect your abstract assets, you could be the victim of idea “thievery.” However, if you have no legal protection for your notions, the “burglar” can’t be prosecuted.
Marketers Face IP Risks
Marketers face some unique risks when it comes to intellectual property. Their entire business platform is based around ideas. The game of marketing is all about coming up with the best idea to attract consumers, and the lines of intellectual property are easily blurred in this case.
By optimizing, monetizing, and protecting your ideas, you can mitigate some of these risks with some of the following measures.
Run an IP Audit
Every business should run an intellectual property audit from time to time. You’re constantly developing new innovations, and this audit will help identify any areas with no legal action to protect your ideas. It will identify procedures for defending ideas, identifying those involved, assessing written agreements, evaluating your existing IP portfolio, and looking at your risk protections.
Overall, your audit will find holes in your intellectual property protections to build a stronger line of defense. You can work through legal proceedings and develop plans for mitigating risk now and in the future. It’s one of the most important steps for protecting your business.
Trademarks are a common form of IP and are defined as “any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used, in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others,” according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
As a marketing professional, you should know that trademarks will protect your brand, logo, and other distinguishing marks. Many companies have not yet pursued trademarks for their brand and should do so to protect the face of the organization from infringement.
If your marketing department has developed some kind of process or technology that’s novel and revolutionary for the industry, it should be patented. It can protect your idea for a limited amount of time so that you can establish yourself as the leader in the industry.
It can be a long and difficult process to file a patent, and it usually goes to the first person who filed. It’s important to take quick action, but don’t take the process lightly. Don’t waste your time trying to patent ideas that are short-lived or ineffective.
Keep Trade Secrets Inside
Develop policies and procedures to protect all marketing trade secrets. Most trade secret leaks can be prevented simply by offering training. Defining your trade secrets and establishing penalties for sharing those secrets can eliminate much of the risk facing your department.
Additionally, you can prevent information from traveling loosely among your employees. Keep your top-level trade secret among those who need to know. When employees leave, make them sign a non-disclosure agreement.
In today’s competitive environment, it’s important to understand what your IP risks are; you should do everything you can to protect your ideas. Carefully evaluate the security of your IP and take steps to improve it.