Is Your Intellectual Property Safe?

Small Business - September 4, 2017
Co-workers sitting on stairs & laughing while looking at a tablet

Ask yourself, what would happen to your business if a competitor began using your company’s name or began selling a product identical to one that you developed? Could your business survive?

The best way to protect your innovations and creations is through effective enforcement of intellectual property (IP) law. Many small business owners falsely believe IP law is only for large corporations and is not worth their time and money, but no small business can afford to ignore protecting their intellectual property.

Copyright law

Copyright laws protect the intellectual property of artists, including written text, photographs, paintings, and designs. Copyright law is particularly important to professional photographers, musicians, writers, and other visual artists. Copyright is established when a work is created.

For example, when a photographer takes a picture they immediately hold the copyright of that image, unless the image was taken on behalf of an employer as part of the photographer’s job duties or the photograph was commissioned for another use. In those cases, the copyright is granted to the employer or the individual who commissioned the work, respectively.

The internet has increased greatly the number of copyright violations. Images, videos, and music are often shared with no regard for their copyright.

Trademark or Service Mark

A trademark includes the design, name, words, and phrases used to identify your business and products. A service mark identifies the provider of services, rather than hard goods. Your trademark or service mark constitutes the identity of your business. You are not required to register a trade or service mark, but failing to do so could leave you vulnerable. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website includes resources on Trademark registration for small business owners.

Patent protection

Because inventors and innovators frequently lack the financial resources to produce or distribute their own inventions, patent law exists to protect those innovations or inventions from reproduction without permission or compensation. Once a patent is registered it becomes a public record and the duration of a patent is limited.

There are several types of patents, including design, plant, and utility patents. The filing process and wait times for patent registration may take a great deal of time. Speak with your LegalShield provider law firm before you begin the process. It is important to make sure you are on the correct path before proceeding. You may also review the USPTO website for additional information.

There’s a LegalShield plan that’s right for your small business

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LegalShield provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield members through membership based participation. Neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees, or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation or advice. See a plan contract at for specific state of residence for complete terms, coverage, amounts, and conditions. This is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact an attorney for legal advice or assistance.