As a small business owner, there is a lot you have to worry about. This includes your competitors, the economy, industry trends and more. However, one thing that is very important that you may not give much thought to is protecting your intellectual property. If your intellectual property is stolen, it could erase your strategic advantages as well as your profitability. With that in mind, here are some steps you can use to protect your intellectual property.
File with the Federal Government
In regards to your intellectual property, there are steps you can take to protect certain elements of your intellectual property on a federal level. If you have invented a new product or business process, you can file for a patent. If you have come up with a new name for your product, you can file a trademark to ensure that others aren’t allowed to use it.
Enforce Your Rights
Usually, intellectual property theft is classified as coming under the scope of the civil court system as opposed to the criminal court system. In most cases, the police can’t do anything for you. Instead, you’re going to require the services of a corporate lawyer with experience in intellectual property related cases. If you don’t enforce the ownership of your intellectual property through legal action, no one else will either.
Protect Your Trade Secrets
Trade secrets are another form of intellectual property you should protect. The most famous example of a trade secret is Kentucky Fried Chicken’s original recipe. You are allowed by law to keep recipes, formulas, production processes, patterns and other things that give your business a competitive edge secret from the general public and even from employees. You should be willing to go to great lengths to protect these secrets. Your business could be harmed if they fall into the hands of corporate spies.
Invest in Cyber Security
In many cases, your intellectual property and trade secrets need to be stored in a digital format. However, doing so makes them susceptible to theft by hackers. Protect secrets that may be stored on your servers by investing in cyber security. Make sure your data is encrypted and guarded in real-time by cyber security software. Ensure that vulnerabilities are patched on a routine basis and the system is audited from time to time by professionals.
There is a lot that can make a business successful. However, at the core of many successful companies is intellectual property. This is true for both huge corporations and small businesses. Make sure to take steps to protect your own intellectual property so your company can stay profitable.