Why Intellectual Property is Important and What it Means for Your Business

Among the more frequently overlooked aspects of running a business is the importance of proactive steps to legally protect your products, services, and unique ideas. Advisors are justifiably preoccupied with clients and employees but safeguarding your firm’s intellectual property (IP) from possible theft should be top of mind before your first day of business.

In the formation stage of corporations, LLCs, and other entities, you should trademark your name, your company logo, and any slogan your firm has. These are components clients often neglect.

Explore Your Legal Rights to Protect IP

Counsel can help you and your firm successfully navigate the complicated subject of IP in today’s information-intensive world.

A critical first step is to discuss your needs with counsel, who can register your valuable IP with the federal or state government. This legally enforces your ownership rights and protects against the alarmingly common practice of IP piracy. They can show you how to record your discoveries and innovations as they occur to prove your IP ownership rights in the event a rival firm obtains illicit information and attempt to repurpose or recreate your ideas.

Counsel can also be leveraged to draft strong non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to restrict any party from unauthorized sharing of information and create strong access credentials to limit access to your IP.

IP Protection and Cybersecurity

When you think of potentially damaging cyber events, your focus tends to be on preventing digital attacks by outside actors that can disrupt your business. But protecting your IP requires diligent safeguards and comprehensive written policies and procedures to restrict electronic access to information both externally and internally.

Since we conduct most of our work online and make it accessible to others, the use of DRM systems can serve as a force field to keep others from copying non-public information and sharing it with others. This is particularly true with internal-use-only documents that are helpful to employees when communicating with clients yet prohibited from sending that information outside the firm.

Outside counsel can help your firm incorporate such DRM best practices as:

Limiting the number of times or the window of time a user can access your work
Restricting the number of devices your work can be accessed by
Preventing users from editing, saving, or copying your work
Prohibits sharing, printing, or taking a screenshot of your work
Creating watermarks for your work to establish ownership

DRM systems are especially helpful for firms that conduct data studies and surveys, write market reports and eBooks, and create proprietary software.

Limiting Access to Mitigate IP Risk

Protecting a business secret requires proactive action when more than one person is aware of it. If you and your firm don’t take sufficient steps to restrict access to a trade secret at the outset, you will not be armed to be successful in the legal system.

Training employees to restrict access to valuable information is the cornerstone of successful IP security. Update passwords frequently as you would to protect your own personal bank and investment account information. Don’t wait until you learn someone has pirated some of your IP and pick up the phone in panic. Contact us at (619) 298-2880 to schedule a consultation.

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