Why You Need to Protect Your Intellectual Property

Fa calendar 16 grey July 26, 2019   
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Being able to create without the constant fear and anxiety of someone else stealing your idea and driving you out of the market makes it much easier to deliver your best ideas.

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Photo credit: UKessay

Entrepreneurship and business ownership is exciting! Developing creative ideas, keeping up with a competitive market and enjoying the profits of hard work can really feel rewarding and thrilling. One area that may seem a little less exciting is the area of intellectual property (IP) law. Now, it’s understandable that as a creative spirit, this may not be the part of entrepreneurship you want to dive into. That said, it is an incredibly important part that you must give some energy to.

Why does it matter so much? To help answer this question, here is why you need to protect your intellectual property.

Benefits of IP Protection

The main benefit of IP protection is that you can rest assured that your original thoughts and creations are your property. Of course, there are different areas of IP protection that offer different benefits. Trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets all pertain to IP rights that fall under common law which basically states that even when unregistered, these ideas are protected as your property as soon as there is proof that it was introduced to the public.

Trademarks cover elements of branding to help distinguish you from competitors. This could be a logo, a slogan, a name or any other identifying element that helps you build reputation and influence that comes into play when consumers are making a decision between products.

Copyrights protect art. This could be visual artwork, writing, music or any of the other ways that artists express themselves. As soon as you can prove that you created a work, it is protected as your own original idea.

Trade secrets pertain to knowledge gained through luck or experience that is critical in the success of a business. This could be something like a secret recipe, a vendor list or a unique means of production.

All of these areas can also be officially registered which makes it much easier to hold infringing parties accountable in court, to find IP protection on an international level and to generally prove your rights to your ideas.

The final area of IP protection is patents. This is the one area that doesn’t fall under common law (you must register with the Kenya Industrial Property Institute) and is the most expensive and in-depth area. It protects original inventions and grants the patent owner exclusive rights to the production of that invention for up to 20 years!

By protecting all of these areas, you are ensuring that you benefit from your original branding, artwork, knowledge and inventions, making it easier to get started with competition in an aggressive marketplace.

Risks of Neglecting Protection

Despite the many benefits of IP protection, many businesses or entrepreneurs will get sloppy or neglectful it, leading to a range of problems that might even devastate their business. The main risk, as you probably have guessed, is having their ideas stolen. This can happen in a number of different ways, hence the reason for the different areas of IP protection. Perhaps they had an original slogan or designed ripped off and a competitor is benefitting from it without being held accountable. Perhaps, more seriously, an entire idea for an invention was stolen.

Despite common law for things like trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, it’s important to note that you are responsible for holding infringing parties accountable. If your logo is stolen or another company copies your original artwork, no one else will jump in and hold them accountable for stealing your work.

A more serious problem is when an entrepreneur fails to file for a patent. If another company copies their invention but it wasn’t protected by a patent, they are free to do so and may even file for a patent themselves if they are able to introduce a unique element. The crushing part about instances like this is that even if the entrepreneur does notice the infringement and wants to hold it accountable, they can’t without having an official patent. Even worse, their idea will be considered public knowledge one year after being introduced to market, and there is absolutely nothing that can be done at that point.

If you’re still convinced that you would be able to compete with your idea even if other businesses copy it, be careful. Larger, more experienced businesses and corporations can easily compete in terms of price, reach and influence, and more often than not, they will run you out of business with these advantages.

Importance of Attorneys

Whether you are looking for more serious protection like official patents or you are simply looking to officially register and enforce copyrights and trademarks, an IP attorney will be your best friend every step of the way. J.D. Houvener, a New York patent attorney, has helped countless clients realize their full potential with their unique ideas:

“As an attorney myself, of course I’m going to recommend professional guidance with IP law. But it isn’t just so I have clients - it’s really in your best interest. IP law is so specific and dependent upon details that it is incredibly easy for even seasoned lawyers to slip up with seemingly mundane wording or patent searches that could result in disaster. Investing in a good attorney is critical to making sure it all gets done right.”

Things that may seem unimportant to a layman (commas, wording, seemingly obvious details, etc.) have completely destroyed many entrepreneurs’ cases with IP infringement. Since the same huge companies that are looking to take advantage of smaller ventures will also have skilled lawyers on their payroll, it’s tremendously important that you have attorneys on your side as well who will put in the work to make sure your ideas are thoroughly protected.

In summary

The fact that IP protection exists is an amazing win for entrepreneurs everywhere. Being able to create without the constant fear and anxiety of someone else stealing your idea and driving you out of the market makes it much easier to deliver your best ideas. By simply looking at the benefits of IP protection and understanding the enormous risks of forgoing protection, it’s easy to see why so many entrepreneurs race to register for patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets.

Don’t let your ideas get stolen! Get credit for your hard work by protecting it with IP law.

For more great content to help with your career, be sure to browse our other blog posts and keep up with our latest updates!


 Tori Lutz is a Freelance Writer, Editor & Social Media Strategist.

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    Kuena | August 16, 2019 07:01

    Thanks a lot for the information

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