Intellectual property ownership and rights are perhaps more valuable than any other business asset. Intellectual property can be as simple as a name and can be as complex as a mathematical formula to reconstruct DNA. It often goes to a company’s reputation and may be its only asset. When a competitor improperly uses your intellectual property, its value is in jeopardy and your response must be swift. That said, the protection of a company’s intellectual property need not hamstring the use and profit generation of the property. Transactions and arrangements can be structured to protect an ownership interest in one’s intellectual property while maximizing its value to all involved.
Trade secrets are typically secrets that give you a competitive edge in your business. It could be a secret recipe or a confidential customer list but whatever it is it is kept a secret. When a competitor — an ex-employee, for example — uses your secret to further its own business, the results could devastate your business. How a secret was kept may determine whether it is afforded trade secret status. Whether an employee must execute a confidentiality agreement, for example, is an important indicator of how the trade secret is kept.
Trademarks concern names, slogans and possibly the packaging of a product. No matter if the business is high tech or old market, a company’s trademark allows it to stand out from its peers. The owner of a valuable mark must be vigilant in protecting the exclusive nature of the mark or risk its forfeiture. We can assist you in choosing a mark (not every word, mark or slogan is eligible for protection), developing its uses, applying for federal trademark registration and protecting your mark from infringement. When the time comes for you to allow others to pay you to use your mark, we can help there too.
Copyrights are available for an original idea or work recorded in some tangible form. Like a trademark, a company’s copyright registration may be all that separates its product from being used by its competitor. What do musical compositions, computer software and statistical analysis have in common? The ability to be copyrighted. Securing a copyright gives you the exclusive right to use your idea or work and prevents others from knocking off that idea or work. Also, like trademark registration, obtaining a copyright helps to protect what might be a company’s core asset crucial to its continued success.