April 26 marks World Intellectual Property day, a day set aside to celebrate the role of intellectual property (IP) in innovation and creativity. Like any property, IP is valuable, so here are some key points on how to protect your intellectual property.
1. Patents: Inventions are the lifeblood of entrepreneurs, and when you have created a new product or an innovative process, you can protect your competitive advantage by obtaining a patent. This gives you the right to stop anyone else from making/selling your invention for some years. Getting a patent is often a complicated procedure so it may be wise to hire a specialist patent law attorney.
2. Copyright: While a patent provides protection for the inventor of a physical product, copyright relates to original works of art and the written word. These copyrightable activities may include literary, musical, and dramatic work, photography, recordings and software. Copyright begins when the work is started, and, for example, an author should start using the copyright symbol immediately when they start work. In principle, it is not necessary to apply for copyright protection, but in practice, it is often wise to do so. If it comes to enforcing your copyright it will be much easier if you have evidence that you intended to protect your work.
3. Trademarks: A name which uniquely identifies your product is valuable to your business, and protecting your trademark(s) stops other companies from selling their product under your name. Before commencing with your chosen name, you should ensure that it is not in use by someone else. An attorney specializing in intellectual property can assist you with a trademark search, and with registering your mark.