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Why Your Intellectual Property Should be Protected

written by: Kay Wiki•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 6/25/2011

There are thousands of businesses negatively effected by the illegal use of their intellectual property. Protecting intellectual property is important for a business that has a desire to protect its reputation and financial future. Fortunately, business owners can protect their property.

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    Avoid Intellectual Property Infringement

    /Users/kiawakefield/Desktop/copyright It is vital that businesses protect their intellectual property. When businesses protect their intellectual property, they can reap the benefits financially and professionally. Theft and counterfeiting of intellectual property threatens any business that is using their creativity and innovation to win clients and grow.

    There are three things that pose a significant problem in the business community. Copyright piracy, patent infringement, and trademark counterfeiting. Trademarks pertain to sounds, symbols, words or names that differentiate the person's business from any other business. Copyrights on the other hand, protect the original works of an author. This could fall into the category of music, art, and literature. Patents are used to keep a developmental idea or invention from being illegally used by someone else. Business owners must gain the necessary expertise to prevent others from stealing their products and ideas. If not other businesses and people have the ability to sell and market a business owner's ideas as their own.

    Counterfeit goods can destroy a business financially and professionally. Financially, because counterfeiters usually offer products at a lower price than the actual business owner. Professionally, the products of counterfeiters are normally lower quality and pose a threat to the reputation of a company.

    Being able to protect intellectual property is great for smaller companies because it levels the playing field between an entrepreneur who is just starting out and a large corporation. Unfortunately, securing property rights can be quite expensive. Copyright protection can cost several hundred dollars. Patents and trademarks are far more expensive and often cost a minimum of $5000 and up to $20,000. When determining how much to pay, a business owner must determine how important their ideas and implementation are.

    Businesses that plan to expand in the future must know that secured patents and trademarks are specific to their home country, and additional protection must be obtained for foreign markets. If international protection is not secured, foreigners can steal logos, product pictures, and any other information that is registered to their business.

    The first step that a business owner needs to take, is ensure their intellectual property is protected in both the US and foreign countries. In the US, obtaining protection on a product or idea is fairly easy and only requires and application. Trademarks and patents are obtained through the same way, an application through the US Patent and Trademark Office also called the USPTO. In the US, copyrights last for 70 years, patents last for 20 years and a trademark lasts forever. A company operating within the US can seek protection through the US patent and trademark office in up to 127 countries.

    Another thing that business owners need to remember is that sometimes ideas they think are original, are often already being used. In these cases, a person must determine if an idea or product isn't already registered as someone else's. The success of a business is determined by how well it's able to protect its intellectual property. Intellectual property is unique to each particular business and a business owner must make sure the integrity of their business is not compromised or shattered by counterfeiting.