A company’s intellectual property can be a significant reason why it is able to operate profitably. Many kinds of intangible resources are technically intellectual property. There are trade secrets, which include non-public information that gives a business a competitive edge. Proprietary recipes, secret manufacturing processes and even customer lists may be treated as trade secrets.
There are also patents, trademarks and copyright protection for intellectual property that can protect various ownership interests of creators and companies. Protecting intellectual property from infringement by others is often crucial for a business’s long-term success, as such property can be what allows a company to remain competitive within the marketplace.
How do organizations protect their intellectual property from potential violations that would hurt their profit margins or brand?
1. They register for certain protections
Some intellectual property rights are automatic, and others require formal registration. There is informal copyright protection available when someone publishes original creations and formal protection obtained by filing paperwork with the government.
Creators and inventors may need to register new concepts with the government by pursuing a patent. Companies also need to register their trademarks to guard against infringement. All of these steps make it easier for a company to protect its intellectual property.
2. They have workers sign restrictive covenants
Employees are a major catalyst of intellectual property violations. They may take trade secrets to a competitor or use what they learn while working at a business to start their own competing organization. Businesses add restrictive covenants to some workers’ contracts to protect against unfair competition later.
Although non-compete agreements are increasingly under scrutiny, organizations can still use non-solicitation agreements and non-disclosure agreements as a means of protecting their intellectual property.
3. They actively enforce existing rights
Ignoring when a competitor or an employee violates a company’s intellectual property rights may make it harder for that organization to defend its rights against violations in the future. The more valuable intellectual property an organization has, the more important it will be to actively monitor the market for signs of infringement and take legal action against those that violate the company’s rights.
Organizations that register appropriate paperwork, protect themselves contractually and actively enforce their intellectual property rights will have the easiest time preventing unfair competition. Learning more about intellectual property violations may inspire entrepreneurs and executives to take steps to protect their company’s interests.